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Television Transportation Science Technology

Discovery Channel Crashes a Boeing 727 For Science Documentary 281

conner_bw writes "A Boeing 727 passenger jet has been deliberately crash-landed. The pilot ejected just minutes before the collision. The plane was packed with scientific experiments, including crash test dummies. Dozens of cameras recorded the crash from inside the aircraft, on the ground, in chase planes and even on the ejecting pilot's helmet. All of this was done for a feature length documentary to be shown on the Discovery Channel later this year."
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Discovery Channel Crashes a Boeing 727 For Science Documentary

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  • Piloted plane? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:45AM (#39842473)

    Why risk human life when you can fly it via remote control? There are some *very* good RC pilots out there who would have creamed their shorts to get a chance to auger one of these planes in!

  • Number Perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vencs ( 1937504 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:53AM (#39842507)
    Actor Rem in Boeing 727s'. According to a basic search [] used 727 costs ~$6mn. And according to Forbes, remunerations are as below:

    Johnny Depp ------------ 15
    Ben Stiller ---------------- 10.5
    Tom Hanks -------------- 9
    Adam Sandler ---------- 8
    Leonardo Di Caprio --- 5.5
    Daniel Radcliffe -------- 5
    Robert Downey Jr ----- 4.5

  • Re:Piloted plane? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garfnodie ( 683999 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:01AM (#39842539)
    I know the FAA crashed a plane on purpose years ago, and they piloted it remotely. Remember though, this plane is being crashed first and foremost for a TV show, so having a human pilot who has to escape will allow them to add some drama. I would imagine though that they had to get the FAA involved pretty heavily in this project, so I'm sure all the safety regulatory agencies had all kinds of monitoring equipment on board along with all of Discovery's camera's and such.
  • Distributed costs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:01AM (#39842541) Homepage Journal

    Let's say the cost getting the plane and refurbishing it for this cost $6M. A 727-100C could carry 94 passengers, and/or ~17k kg of cargo. So you charge $64k per 'seat' for experiment space or $353 per kg of experiment, which ever is greater. The actual research could be extremely wide - testing new airline seat's crash-worthiness, validating the current crash models, crash dummies in general, cabin air samples during/after a crash, etc...

    You get a grant from various governments for the environmental study involving the clean up of the crash site, have the ejection seat installed by one of the companies that do such things for research/advertising purposes, etc...

    Being interested in 'just' making the documentary, they're providing a rare opportunity for research at a good discount without stepping on the toes of various research organizations that couldn't cooperate on their own to get this done.

  • Re:Decadence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarwinSurvivor ( 1752106 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:01AM (#39842543)
    I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing themselves didn't invest a bunch of money in the crash. Car companies test-crash automobiles on a regular basis, Boeing probably got some VERY valuable information that can help them make planes safer in the future.
  • Re:Decadence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:08AM (#39842573) Journal

    I don't know about you, but I'm kind of excited about the thought of a small third world nation having a nuclear bomb dropped on it, so that I can be entertained. I'm not heartless. The people would be evacuated first, of course. All of this would be captured by an award-winning director (I'm gunning for James Cameron), who would be free to add some drama and story to the action. If we find a poor enough nation, we should be able to pull this off for around a billion US dollars. Seeing as how Cameron has proved that he can pull in a billion dollars already, this should be doable.

    I say, if we're going to be decadent, it's time to go all the way.

  • Ejections from a 727 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @05:32AM (#39843067) Homepage Journal

    I figure that the ejection was due to the regulations and cost making a pure remote flight impractical.

    As for the ejection from the 727, assuming it was from an actual ejection seat I'd assume that it was installed custom, commercial planes don't come with ejection equipment by default. As such, it'd be 'however the engineers decided to install this one-off system'.

    I'd probably go with a custom installed hatch in top with explosive bolts, with a fairly standard ejection chair installed on appropriate rails.

    On the other hand, going down, like how B52 ejection works, might actually make more sense - with a 727 you have engines mounted high and to the back; you really, really want to avoid being anywhere near those when you eject. Remember, they're sucking air during operation. There's also the big tail to consider.

    Still, you're looking at a lot more length than a fighter and a nice big rocket engine should give you plenty of clearance.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Monday April 30, 2012 @07:40AM (#39843423) Journal

    The 727 has also been used as a skydiving jumpship. A friend of mine has jumped from the 727, and she said it was somewhat painful hitting the air at that speed (they are actually above terminal velocity when they jump, and can climb a little until they are higher than the actual jumpship before starting their fall)

  • Re:Piloted plane? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @08:32AM (#39843691)

    WAY too much money.

    If you have a (plentiful at Davis-Monthan etc) surplus ejection seat whose pyrotechnics are current all you need is to bolt the rails to the cockpit floor with a simple mount of your choice and cut a hole in the roof covered with a light panel. No electronics to connect and the seat is self-contained.

    OV-10 Broncos had a very fast seat because it used a canopy breaker and punched through the light upper transparency.

    Neat site with lots of interesting ejection info: []

The number of computer scientists in a room is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in their code.