The Safety Lesson From Viral Videos Of Yesterday’s Dramatic Landing Gear Collapse In Miami

On Tuesday Dominican low cost carrier Red Air had a landing gear collapse on arrival in Miami. The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 operating flight L5-203 from Santo Domingo with 126 people on board “came to a stand still off the runway with a fire developing at the right hand wing, where a fuel spill occurred.” Three people were hospitalized from minor injuries during the evacuation.

The fire and fuel spill were contained quickly and impressively. Now we shift to viral social media of the incident and notice two things which happen in every major aviation incident.

  • Passengers take their carry on bags with them

  • And stop to take selfies or video the evacuation
  • How about a man filming himself evacuating with a rollaboard in one hand and drink in the other? And all the luggage being taken down the slide?

    🔥Un #McDonnel Douglas 82 (immatriculé HI1064) de la compagnie #RedAir effectuant le vol L5203 en provenance de #SantoDomingo a effectué un atterrissage d'urgence à #Miami. Il y avait 151 personnes à bord, dont trois ont été hospitalisées.#USA #landing #damage @PresseMondial

    — Didier (@LetItShine69) June 22, 2022

    Video shows frantic moments passengers make their way out of RedAir flight 203 after landing gear collapse & fire at MIA…some use emergency chute ⁦@WPLGLocal10⁩

    — Janine Stanwood (@JanineStanwood) June 22, 2022

    Anything that delays evacuation or creates obstacles increases the risk of greater casualties. So a cottage industry in social media scolds follows, shocked that passengers could be so selfish as to jeopardize others on the aircraft.

    Some even call for ‘locking overhead bins’ to prevent passengers from taking bags with them. Although it’s always seemed like this would be counterproductive – passengers would still try to take their bags, only they’d stop and take even longer struggling with the bins (in vain) trying to get at their luggage.

    You’re not getting your stuff back in a timely manner after an incident like this, so it’s natural and even reasonable to expect passengers to take anything within arm’s reach with them though stopping to remove bags from the overhead seems a step too far.

    Evacuation procedures should account for this in the modeling, not wish away human behavior. Instead of trying to change human behavior, we need to engineer around it. And perhaps there should be a credible commitment to return passenger belongings promptly so that there’s less of a felt need to secure one’s belongings in a rogue manner.

    We have to deal with people as they are in planning for safety, not wish they were something else.

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