IDA engineer on Chinese plane crash: There is rarely only one cause

It has not yet been determined what caused a fatal plane crash on 21 March in China which killed 132 people but there is rarely just one reason why a plane crashes to the ground, says engineer Paul Hulme Harrison.

Paul Hulme Harrison is an expert in aviation safety for the Danish Society of Engineers (IDA) and he explains to BT that usually it is a combination of many factors that lead to a crash because planes are built in such a way that if for example, one engine breaks down, it can fly on the other engine.

“If they both stop, we can not keep flying in the air, but must slide down and find a place to land. In this case, the plane did not slide, but come vertically down on the last piece,” he says.

The six-year-old Boeing 737-800 from China Eastern Airlines crashed near the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region in southwest China. The plane was on its way from Kunming to Guangzhou and the accident is called the worst aviation accident in Chinese history in over a decade.

For Paul Hulme Harrison it is incomprehensible what could have led to the fatal accident. He does not want to guess what is the most or the least likely cause

On the contrary, he believes that one must wait for the accident report that will probably be published about the crash in a year or two. “Then we can learn from it and prevent it from happening again,” he says.

“In my eyes, there are no causes that are more likely than others,” Paul Hulme Harrison adds.

Although there have been several stories of crashes with Boeing aircraft in recent years, they are not uncertain, the engineer emphasizes.

“The Boeing 737 series and the competitor’s product Airbus 320 are the workhorses of international and intercontinental flight. They fly so much that if you look at how many crashes there are, in relation to the flights and flight hours they perform, they have a good safety statistic. They definitely belong to the safe planes,” he says.

Following the crash, China Eastern Airlines has for the time being suspended flights with its fleet of Boeing 737-800s. According to Flightradar24, the company has 109 of that model.


About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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