Inside the Panicked 737 that Dangled Off a Cliff This Weekend

Over the weekend a Boeing 737 overran the runway and went off on an embankment in Northeastern Turkey.

There were 162 passengers and 6 crew onboard. Everyone made it out safely. There’s now video from inside the cabin during the evacuation.

New information about the incident was released today,

The flight crew was tested for intoxication, no findings were made, and was interviewed.

The flight crew reported the flight was normal until after touch down with the first officer being pilot flying, deceleration was slow due to the wet runway, the controls were handed to the captain, the captain applied brakes, the aircraft turned left, the aircraft went off the runway, the right hand engine suddenly accelerated in forward thrust unintentionally.

The aircraft went over the cliff and dropped, the right hand engine separated and fell into the sea. The aircraft came to a stop, the crew alerted tower and emergency services responded arriving in a short time.

In the cabin video you can see chaos and panic — and open overhead bins. There will be some calling for locking overhead bins in emergency situations to prevent people from taking their belongings, on the theory that doing so slows down the evacuation. And it does. The worry is that locking the bins would too, as panicked passengers stop and spend time trying to open the bins despite the locks.

I have a hard time criticizing passengers in a situation like this, we may know the right thing to do intellectually but in the moment with adrenaline pumping and a belief your life is on the line people react. That’s why it’s important to have strict evacuation standards precisely because in real life you’ll never meet those standards.

Of course if you’re going to criticize people taking belongings off the plane, then you should probably ask about their taking cell phone video too.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m sure the technology can be implemented. I wouldn’t just lock them in an emergency because in that case the crew is already too busy following a checklist. I would just lock them for all take off and landings, with a red/green display near the handle noting that they’re locked/unlocked, and the FAs would have a master key or some other mechanism in case they malfunction during normal operations. Sure, people would slow down the evacuation instinctively trying to open them, but they’re already slowing down the evacuation retrieving their luggage anyway, so I think the public can easily be conditioned into the new locking feature over time.

  2. I can not agree with this, “I have a hard time criticizing passengers in a situation like this”. This could be your life that is put in danger. You can’t fix stupid.

  3. Many airlines store emergency equipment in some overhead bins. Those will have to remain unlocked or FAs would have to always carry the right keys. It can be implemented if it makes sense.

  4. I have been told by a pilot that airplanes can be flown by the computer, from take off to landing.
    I challenged him on the basis of the USAir flight that water-landed in the Hudson, and now this flight. If the First Office handed the landing off to the Captain, and then the right engine accelerated, was this human error or computer malfunction? I hope these pilots have their stories straight and a conclusion is quickly reached. Did the wet runway and long landing confuse the computers?

  5. I wonder if there was an engineer who actually designed the cliff so that a plane could sit on it instead of tumble off. I know the hills within LAX that were previously residential neighborhoods were all graded with more gentle slopes for that reason. I watched that operation from the ground and air.

  6. Michael’s got the right idea. I know that if I got in a plane emergency, and we are all getting off the plane, my first instinct would be to reach up and take out my bag. Not because I want to preserve my possessions, but rather that’s what I have done on all the flights I have taken before. It’s just instinct, trained into me over hundreds and hundreds of flights.

    The only way to break that habitual behavior is to come up with a new paradigm that happens every flight. If the overhead bins were locked until the seatbin sign went off, I would learn I cannot open them, and would just head for the door.

  7. Plane dangling off a cliff in danger of falling into the ocean. People trying desperately to evacuate. Hmm….let’s take some cell phone video!! Some people are absolute idiots. If I was on that plane I would grab the phone and smash it.

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