The Boeing 727, named Big Flo, was purposely crashed into the Sonoran Desert in Mexico with a combination of £150,000 test dummies and sand bags acting as passengers
The aeroplane was flown by real pilots who parachuted out of it before it hit the ground.
The programme makers wanted to recreate a serious, but survivable, ‘forced landing’ to study the crashworthiness of the aircraft and the impact of crashes on the human body.
One of the state-of-the-art dummies was seated in the brace position, another had its seatbelt fastened and a third had no restraint at all.
Following the crash, the ‘passengers’ in seats at the front of the aircraft were found to be the least likely to survive.
Experts also found that the dummy in the brace position with its seat belt fastened would have survived the impact.
The second dummy, whose seatbelt was fastened but was not in the brace position, would have survived but suffered severe head injuries. The third unrestrained dummy would have died.
Using this, experts predicted that 78 per cent of passengers on board would have survived the impact, but that coming down nose-first, all the first-class travelers would have died because the front of the fuselage sheared off.
Those sitting at the back would have had the best chance of survival.
‘It is safer to sit at the back of the aircraft where the flight recorder is. The front is more vulnerable because that often sees higher impact forces.