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Video shows plane's moment of impact at SFO (cnn.com)
144 points by hofimax on July 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

That video puts all the initial 'cartwheeling' and 'flipping' comments into much better context. It's easy to see how onlookers could've mistaken that action with the plane turning over. I'm seriously impressed that there were only two fatalities.

Yeah, I thought there was a bit of hyperbole going on. I am stunned people walked away from that.

The plane did do a 360.

It looked like the wingtip dug in, causing the "flip up", then aircraft slowed, the jet settled back down.

If the jet had done a 360, its unlikely the main fuselage would stay together, it would have broken into several large pieces.

Correction: It was an airborne near-360 after the flip up. If the jet had done a 360 on the ground, it wouldn't have stayed together. Still surprising that most passengers survived with minor or no injuries. Sad two young girls died and some received critical or possibly permanent spinal/or and head injuries.

I didn't see a 360, it just tipped to the slide after the nose going up.

Look again. Look at the direction of the wings, they are pointed in reverse for a while, and then you see it doing the other half turn.

Life is a bit easier if you aren't as.. Tedious.

It did a 180, spinning around with the nose digging into the ground.

It turned at least >270. It may have reversed its direction. I'm not sure what the final "heading" of the hull ended up being.

As a semi-unrelated note, as someone who has to watch a lot of near east homemade "terrorist" videos, this video gives a great western corollary to the incessant "Allahu Akbar" that is chanted throughout those videos. The "Oh my god" is almost literally a translation and is used in similar manner and contexts, though not all.

I think it depends on the tone of the Allahu Akbar. There's is a "this is breathtaking" tone (much like Oh my God) and a "Fellows, let's praise God" tone. I would say that chanting or shouting that phrase corresponds to the latter case.

That's interesting, I had always thought of it as more of a celebratory expression rather than "oh my god," which usually indicates shock or sadness.

"Allahu Akbar" is "Allah is great" not "Oh my God".

Yes, that's a literal translation. We say many similar things in English to express shock: "good God", "my God", "God almighty", etc.

A particularly colorful example of multiple constructions in a blend of "shock" and "awesome" reactions:


(Language emphatically not work safe.)


I was wondering last night why there isn't video of airplane landings being taken as a routine course of action? If nothing eventful happens they can delete the footage but in an instance like this they would have video of exactly what happened.

I was in a hotel that looked across the water (Red Roof Inn) and saw the crash. I talked to several pilots that were watching the aftermath with me and they said the FAA does actually have cameras recording landings and takeoffs.

Maybe you presume incorrectly and videos of airplane landings are taken as a routine course of action -- but not released publicly.

There is video of every take off and landing. It is not released to the public.

How often is there a crash landing at an airport? Video would probably be more useful in automobiles. There are lots of accidents every day. At some point video at airports or on planes be be useful for collision warnings. Camera on the plane could warn the tower and pilot.

Whats the difference does it make "how often"? When it happens its usually fatal and this looks like a miracle only 2 dead (RIP).

How often per year you have terrorist attack (1 this year?) and yet you have billions of dollars spent and US Constitution shredded with the possibility of some sweating pot-belly stranger grouping your three-years daughter between her crotch, checking if you hadn't packed some explosives there (just like every american parent would sacrifice their child for their terrorist threat [just being extremely sarcastic here obviously]).

Its actually weird that each airport does not have close-circuit cameras recording each runway. I dont see a problem just make it what 24hours closed recording and its enough in case there is situation like this one.

Side note: from the initial pictures how the roof looked like, my assumption was that there were two bombs in overhead compartments. I would never guess that a belly diving would cause such a sever damage to the roof of the airplane where it looks like it was extensively burned.

Because if it only happens once every 10 years or so and it doesn't provide any real value beyond what the flight and data recorders provide then it hardly seems worth it. Technology changes quickly. It sounds like it was human error. I'd rather have something to help prevent it rather than seeing the footage of the crash. Let's get the crashes down to one every 20 years.

The initial crash had some smaller fires that died out. They evacuated the people and then the plane started burning. The damage to the roof was from the secondary fires.

The fire caused that roof damage.

Every photo that I have seems shows the open roof. I can't tell if the fire burned it through or if the roof was ripped open by the fire fighters and the rescue teams.

If the former, I wonder if the plane's vertical profile was designed in such a way as to keep the fire above the passengers (if such a thing is even possible).

David Eun's post right after evacuating the aircraft shows the roof still intact. https://path.com/p/1lwrZb

My experience with fire in an enclosed space is that you never want to introduce air. I am confident that the airport fire crews did not rip the fuselage open at the top. The photos I have seen look like burned aluminum. http://a57.foxnews.com/global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/i...

Fatal crashes like this are rare enough to make the headlines, but near-accidents, non-fatal accidents and other minor events could be better documented and help improve the overall safety and efficiency.

Given the current low price of high-quality video equipment, and the cost of both safety equipment and investigation, even in minor cases, this sounds actually like a good idea. Footage could be deleted quickly if nothing eventful happens, reducing the costs even further.

It would be much more helpful and less privacy-invasive than the rest of the airport camera circuit, and probably cheaper.

Bureaucracy. Some entrepreneurial employee of the airport can't just head out and install cameras, no matter how cheap they are. You or I could get a gopro and a tiny PC and have high quality footage recorded all day and then deleted automatically if nothing eventful happens. But... we're talking about an industry that still uses token-ring networks.

A "markets" person might think, if it's so cheap and the footage of a crash so valuable, why don't individuals across the bay setup their own cameras to record the runway, then sell the footage if it becomes valuable?

>we're talking about an industry that still uses token-ring networks

Wait, seriously? I'm interested...

My question still stands. I'm not proposing for some random person to go there and install the cameras, I'm wondering why the industry does not adopt this as a standard practice.

Either they already are, or it was deemed not useful to diagnose and prevent other disasters. Given the depth and the breadth of rules and regulations that make air travel safer than crossing the street [citation needed, I'm sure], I would assume that they're doing something right.

What if you sell to pilots? Have pilots buy cameras and have them carry the camera onto the plane themselves. Sell it as a liability reduction thing.

Cars in Russia routinely have dash-mounted cams to record driving; helps for insurance claims. It's one reason why there were so many videos of the meteorite that hit Chelyabinsk, taken while driving.

Russia seems to be the richest vein of "weird road videos" for precisely this reason - when you're recording "everything" then you get a lot more strange incidents on camera.

The habit seems to be spreading by Russian immigrants too - I had a Russian driver the other week, and that was the first US taxi I had been in that had a dash cam.

The cost of minimal useful equipment to accomplish that task at every international airport in the US (~150) would be less than the cost of a single 777 empty ($300MM). The value of that footage? I don't know, but it sounds like a bargain to me.

They have something like this already, it's called a Flight Data Recorder

I can't wait to see the video footage from it!

I don't know if you are being sarcastic, and but I don't see any smiley faces so here http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_data_recorder

Sarcasm that is made unambiguous is not sarcasm.

Do they record videos too ? I don't think so.

Modern planes have multiple video cameras attached to them, I'm not sure if they are recorded, though. They help with taxing.

A few dozen go pro's are not going to cost much and we have surveillance pretty much everywhere else, so why not here. Every post office in the USA has about 25 high res cameras.

I'm in favor of blanket video at airports but the cameras are probably the cheapest part of the setup. You'll need to wire the cameras with electricity and data connections to a system. You'll also need to make sure that they are secure enough not to blow over and litter the runway or far enough away not to be a danger. That takes testing and planning for every airport.

Lots of money to do this. Still worth it but its much more expensive than a few go pros and tripods.

You could just install them inside the tower pointing out the window.

You still need power wired and planning. Go Pros will still be the cheapest part of the equation.

Heck, just get one of those dash cams from Amazon. $25 for the cam, $35 for the SD card, suction cup it to the window, plug it into the wall, and it'll record the last several hours on the card.

All for less than $100, and 5 minutes installation.

The control tower of an airport is not like a home office. You can't just put things anywhere and run extention cords to power devices.

We have surveillance elsewhere because there's a relatively high possibility of criminal activity. On a runway, that possibility is ridiculously low. We fear malice more than incompetence.

We have surveillance elsewhere because there's a relatively high possibility of criminal activity.

Where are you talking about?

High density populations.

Not sure how you'd warn a pilot about a crash simply using a camera? Either way, there is already a (practically P2P) collision avoidance system that's pretty reliable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCAS

The cost is trivial in proportion to the benefit (and pretty trivial in absolute terms; for a few thousand you could have a high resolution image shooting at a high frame rate). Most car journeys don't involve an accident either, it's just that there's so many of them.

Probably because video isn't terribly useful in determining what happened. Plane came in too low, tail struck the seawall. Assuming that is actually what happened, this was clear as soon as the news helicopters were on site. All video would contribute (assuming that it doesn't exist as just isn't released as is suggested) is entertainment to the public.

The interesting question to answer isn't the exact mechanics of the crash, but why the plane came in too low. All the video footage in the world is not going to answer the why - the flight data and cockpit voice recorders might, on the other hand.

You've heard about the black box, right? That has all the information that they need to figure it out. I admit that video is cooler to watch than some squiggly lines of accelarations, roll and pitch, though

You could even get the private market to finance it--at least for larger airports. I'm sure sites like FlightAware and Airliners.net would love the footage.

The Flight Data Recorder will have recorded everything anyways

The FDR / CVR will record much data, including controls and communications. They won't record:

Other aircraft or objects in the vicinity.

Parts of the aircraft which have separated. Look to the telemetry data / communications in the case of the Columbia shuttle disaster as ground control tried to work out what was happening with the off-range readings for tire pressure sensors -- as the wing of the shuttle was being carved out from the inside by 6000°F reentry plasma.

Fine-grained movement of the aircraft, its components, the interior, fire and/or smoke, debris, etc, at 16-1000 frames per second 1080p resolution.

Runway incursions, airspace incursions, and other near-miss phenomena.

Small aircraft without FDR/CVR equipment.

The equipment cost is minimal. Equipping the plane itself with video capabilities would be an additional feature, but simply having ground, runway, approach, and departure path video would be useful. As others have noted, not only for the (very rare) emergencies, but for the far more common "incidents".

On the negative side: inclement weather, including rain, snow, and fog (the latter being common at SFO) would limit utility somewhat.

http://www.faa.gov/airports/runway_safety/news/runway_incurs... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runway_safety http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/05/06/runway_incursi...

From that last (and presumably applying to Canada, not the US):

A Star analysis of Transport Canada data counted 5,677 incursions by aircraft, vehicles and pedestrians since 1999, averaging almost 400 a year.

Maybe all available surveillance cams were in use on your street, catching teens flipping each other off and trading "contraband".


video of boeing stress-testing 777 wings by deflecting them up with cables, against a stationary fuselage

first thing that came to mind after seeing the video of the crashed plane do a cartwheel on its wing.

Also relevant -- an MD-80 losing it's tail during a test flight after a hard landing: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SXVmsm_pmUo

The final closeup of the person in the video reacting is former Boeing exec and now Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

I was very skeptical of comments that the plane 'cartwheeled' and 'flipped'. I just didn't believe there was not only not enough energy, but there would be a lot more fatalities and the airframe would be even more wrecked.

However, this video was quite the shocker. Not only does the aircraft do a near 360 degree spin, but you could see the bottom of the aircraft as it spins with the tail up and nose down with the right wing up in the air. Amazing only 2 fatalities so far and the aircraft was intact as it was.

I don't think the 'not enough energy' argument is particularly strong. To flip a plane over, you have to lift up the plane's center of gravity by about half its length (probably less, as the nose can go down a bit during the flip. Also, if the pivot point is below the fuselage, the engines will provide torque during flipping.

Let's take a 60m long body and assume perfect conversion of horizontal speed (=kinetic energy) into vertical speed (=potential energy). To lift the body by an average 30m, it would need a speed of sqrt(2gh) = sqrt(600) or less than 25m/s. That's less than 90 km/h.

Google gives me a landing speed of about 250 km/h for a 777. That gives us a factor of 3 in speed, or 7 to 8 in kinetic energy to cater for inelastic collisions, air resistance, energy loss digging the nose wheel or the whole nose into the ground to create a pivot point, etc.

Also, and probably more convincing, there's the example from a DC-10 crash in Sioux City in 1989. Both http://www.airdisaster.com/reports/ntsb/AAR90-06.pdf and http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19890719-1 mention the word 'cartwheel', and that's also what I remember from the video (which I can't find now)

I'm not going to question you, because the plane did indeed have enough energy to the "flip". I'm just going to suggest things about the speed. The approach speed a 777 at 250km/h, is correct, that's 134 kts which is maybe a tad bit slower then what it should be. However, the NTSB confirmed today that the aircraft was significantly slower than that – which why the plane ended up coming up short and stalling. Furthermore there is at least a couple seconds of the plane skidding on the ground which would have slowed it yet even more before it did the "flip".

OK. Let me question myself, then :-) . Energy-wise, I still think it is easy to flip a plane in a crash. I would only call it cartwheeling if there were two flips in succession. That would be tight, as the impact on the ground after the first flip would be quite inelastic.

Also, for both flips, you would have to have the mass of the plane straight behind the pivot point. That is hard to achieve, as everybody who has done cartwheels will know (if not, imagine maiign a handstand on one hand with too much rotation that continues into a landing on one leg)

The Sioux City DC-10 did not cartwheel. I believe a wing detached which is why people thought it did.

> Amazing only 2 fatalities so far and the aircraft was intact as it was.

Something on the close order of a half-dozen more have spinal fractures and other injuries they won't ever fully recover from.

Of the 307 on board, about 170 of them were injured, ~25 quite seriously.

It'd be nice if video sites supported arbitrary aspect ratios and displayed them correctly. I can't turn my monitor to view videos in page orientation -- well, I could, but I won't -- but I can easily turn my phone. Movies are wide screen for good reason, but I'm sure there are genres well suited to page orientation.

Agreed. That might put an end to the endless complaints on reddit and other sites about vertical videos.

The problem is, when you hold your phone horizontally it's painfully obvious to other people you're taking a video. Holding it vertically allows for being more discreet. You might just be texting or something.

Smartphone manufacturers could also solve this problem by somehow auto-rotating the camera internally.

"Nobody cares about you!"

That made me laugh harder than anything yet this month.

Actually, it looks like the video was edited to become vertical after the fact. Look at the blurry images in the sides of the video.

I always assumed that broadcasters added those blurry sidebars in on purpose from data in the middle section so that they weren't just displaying blank black bars on two-thirds of the screen.

There is a funny podcast (accidental tech podcast) episode where Marco and Casey discuss how they had to explain to the phone camera operator how important it is to shoot landscape, all whilst going round the Nuremberg ring.

Question for anyone with media/newsroom experience:

How does CNN get exclusive access to an amateur video like this? What process was in place such that this didn't end up on YouTube first?

I wondered the same thing, and my thought was this guy calling CNN: "hey, I have iPhone vid of that plane crashing at SFO, how much will you pay me for the exclusive rights to it?"

That's the scenario I imagined as well. Which gave me pause, because I thought most onlookers in this situation, including myself, would value publishing the video immediately instead of collecting a payoff.

The entire transaction strikes me as a bit tasteless (perhaps even Ballardian), but raises another interesting question: once you have such a video, how do you put a value on it, given that there may be any number of other amateur videos taken, with a good chance that they're of better quality than your own?

The entire transaction strikes me as a bit tasteless

I agree, but it does cause me to pause to consider the entire news business. CNN would pay for a video like this because they'll generate substantial revenue from it. If it were posted on Youtube, Google would generate substantial revenue from it. So I guess the question is, where is the line. Is for-profit news ethical? I definitely get immediately turned off when I see people profiting from stuff like this, but doesn't the media do exactly the same thing, just at scale?

The distinction here is that I as an individual have a lot more control over what's on YouTube compared to what's published on CNN.

The utility of that freedom being that if I had published the video immediately and forfeited my copyright, It would have better informed the audience earlier in the news cycle and led to less speculation.

informed the audience earlier in the news cycle and led to less speculation

Interesting. Does reducing audience (public) speculation actually matter? What if the person that captured the video immediately sent it to the NTSB and FAA so as not to impede the investigation, but sold it to the media?

CNN had the video endlessly looping for hours today, so my assumption would be it has serious economic value.

My personal opinion is that any objective evidence does matter, although mostly in the context of the investigation like you mentioned. I hadn't thought of that particular choice.

In any case, it's reasonable to predict that CNN has better footage already that they've chosen not to release yet.

I'm almost certain he sold the footage to CNN. They probably waited a day to see if it was the only footage of the crash then msde an offer.

I'm betting the fact that they were older and maybe not that technically savvy is the reason for not being on twitter,Vine,Instagram,Youtube immediately. A technically savvy person's first instinct is to share this footage instantly and receive the credit/thousands of re-tweets etc..


"oh and you're filming it!"

Yeah seems like a legit reason for excitement.

I couldn't keep the sound on and had to mute it.


What does it mean?

That woman was so annoying with her comments..obviously he is filmy it, was she blind?

People react strangely and unpredictably in circumstances with which they are not familiar. I think her reaction was probably more along the lines of "This is crazy and you just happen to be filming it."

It seems like it's a good idea if you realize the person next to you is doing something very important to make double sure they're aware this is the case.

I might be missing something obvious but... Why not ask the pilots for their reasons? They are fine right?

Just because the NTSB hasn't released information on the cause of the crash, it doesn't mean they don't have strong working theories (based on information, including from the pilots). I assume the organization would want to compile a full report before publicly releasing details or theories. This, I'm sure, applies doubly if the cause could end up being pilot error, which has a strong weight on public opinion.

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