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Chances of Surviving an Airplane Crash over Water

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What are your chances of surviving an airplane crash over water? Ditching, the term for an emergency landing over water where a pilot intentionally grounds the aircraft in water, virtually always has survivors. There are several examples in modern civil aviation history where some or all passengers survived an emergency landing in water.

According to various statistics, the overall chances of surviving such an airplane accident ranges from lows of 50% to highs of nearly 90%.

A few of the more notable "ditchings" in recent history and the survival rate:
  • 15 January 2009 - US Airways Flight 1549 ditched into the Hudson River in New York City after calls of having been hit by a flock of geese.
    Aircraft - Airbus A320.
    155 total passengers and crew on board survived.
    Survival Rate - 100%.

  • 16 January 2002 - Garuda Indonesia Flight 421 ditched near Yogyakarta. Engine failure in poor weather (heavy precipitation) led to the incident.
    Aircraft - Boeing 737.
    60 total passengers and crew; one fatality (flight attendant).
    Survival Rate - 98%.

  • 23 November 1996 - Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 ditched close to land after running out of fuel. The flight was hijacked, lack of fuel meant mechanical failure, and one of the aircraft's wingtips dragged in the water before breaking apart into three pieces.
    175 total passengers and crew; 52 survivors.
    Aircraft - Boeing 767-200ER
    Survival Rate - 30%.



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