The Boeing 777 was the first of a new generation of jetliners built with a new focus on passenger survivability, according to a former Boeing engineer who worked on certifying the federally required safety features.
Of the 307 passengers and crew on board, 305 survived the crash of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday. Two teenage girls were found dead at the scene. Authorities are investigating whether one was killed by a vehicle responding to the crash.
Former engineer Mark Sweeney was hopeful when he heard the crash happened as the plane landed. "When I heard that it was on landing, I thought, there's a pretty fair chance that there's a number who made it through this," Sweeney said.
Sweeney has examined pictures taken of the plane's interior after the crash, "As we look in the interior," Sweeney says, "You can see that the seats are basically in place there." He credits regulations that require seats to remain attached to the floor even while under 16 times the normal force of gravity, thereby preventing people from being hurt or killed as they fly around the cabin in a crash.
Sweeney also says fire resistant interiors gave passengers a chance to escape before being overcome by smoke.
The new standards grew out of plane crash tests NASA conducted showing that plane crashes could be survivable if safety standards were upgraded.
Boeing incorporated the standards and Sweeney believes they worked. "Mostly I'm pretty darn proud of what happened here, he said"