From a flight operations point of view, this week’s crash of an Aeromexico Embraer 190 is an obvious case of something going wrong; from a cabin safety point of view it is a case of something (or just enough things) going right: all 103 passengers and crew survived the crash.
Aeromexico flight 2431 was taking off from Durango, Mexico, on a flight to Mexico city about 3.30 pm local time on Tuesday (6.30 am on Wednesday Australian time), when it crashed, about 400 metres past the runway threshold, after failing to gain altitude.
The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) quotes a statement from the governor of Durango state, that the aircraft became airborne but lost altitude after being ‘affected by a gust of wind’ which caused it to ‘descend abruptly’ and hit the ground to the left of the runway, left wing first. Both engines broke away during the subsequent ground slide, the ASN said.
The ASN reported ‘Airport weather information shows that a thunderstorm had developed by 15:18 hours local time and the temperature had dropped from 28°C to 20°C over the previous hour.’ Associated Press reported that a passenger said the aircraft encountered hail during its short time in the air.
Another passenger, Ramin Parsa, one of 85 Americans on board, took a video, showing the take-off in streaming rain, and the crash a few seconds later. Parsa said the over-wing-exits had been blocked by fire, and another passenger said the rear escape slide was unusable because of the angle of the fuselage. Passengers helped rescue the injured pilot, the AP reported.
Aeromexico said, ‘The action taken by our crew during the evacuation of the aircraft was critical in avoiding any loss of life.’
The US National Transportation Safety Board is sending two investigators to the crash scene to offer technical assistance to Mexican aviation authorities.
There were no reports, of passengers tempting to retrieve their cabin baggage, which has been a cause of strong concern during other recent aircraft evacuations. The official report will no doubt contain many details and lessons from a, thankfully, non-fatal case study in cabin safety.