Colloquium: February 4, 2014

Crashing a Boeing 727 in the Mexican Desert

R. John Hansman

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium
(Video of the lecture) within the Langley firewall only


This seminar will describe technical and operational issues encountered during the preparation and filming of the recent “Plane Crash” documentary on the Discovery Channel. The experiment was conducted to investigate crash dynamics and occupant survivability factors. A highly instrumented unmanned Boeing 727 was intentionally flown into the desert near Mexicali Mexico. The crash profile was a landing configuration with the impact parameters designed to be at the limit of occupant survivability. Results indicated significant variability in occupant survivability depending on seat location and generally confirmed current design criteria.

More information about the experiment is available here at these external sites:


R. John Hansman is the T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics MIT, where he is the Director of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation. He conducts research in the application of information technology in operational aerospace systems. Dr. Hansman holds 6 patents and has authored over 250 technical publications. He has over 5800 hours of pilot in-command time in airplanes, helicopters and sailplanes including meteorological, production and engineering flight test experience. Professor Hansman chairs the US Federal Aviation Administration Research Engineering & Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) as well as other national and international advisory committees. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), is a Fellow of the AIAA and has received numerous awards including the AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Aeronautics Research, the ATCA Kriske Air Traffic Award, a Laurel from Aviation Week & Space Technology, and the FAA Excellence in Aviation Award.

Flyer suitable for printing.

Gaudy Bezos-O’Connor is hosting our speaker this month.