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Intermediate B1 / Lesson 1

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Reading

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How to Survive a Plane Crash?

Before you start reading, study the following vocabulary:

to assume
to ditch
to reveal
to heed
fuselage
errant
aisle seat

Most people assume that if an airplane crashes, their time is up. But experience and statistics tell a different story! Out of the 134 people on board the Turkish Airlines flight that crashed at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in 2009, 125 survived. When the U.S. Airways plane ditched in the Hudson River, New York, in January 2010, every passenger and crew member walked away. U.S. government data revealed that 95.7 percent of the passengers involved in airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000 survived. Even in the most serious crashes – 26 in that period – over half lived. The industry-wide accident rate is just one accident per 1.2 million flights.

Safety advances and improvements in staff training have helped to improve survival rates. But passengers' decisions and actions could also mean the difference between life and death. Experts advise passengers to approach their flight with a clear mind, keep calm and heed the following advice.

When you board a plane, get in tune with your environment. Visibility will be reduced in a smoke-filled cabin, so count the number of rows between you and the two nearest exits. Always listen to the pre-flight safety briefing and study the back-seat safety card. Don't assume you know it all, as every type of airplane has different safety instructions. If you're sitting in an exit row, study the door and make sure you know how to open it. Cabin crew will not order you to operate the exit, so make sure you have the confidence to take control in an accident.

You will need to be able to stay warm if you survive a crash, so dress properly. You should wear long sleeves and trousers and avoid wearing high heels, as these must be removed before evacuating via an emergency slide. Keep your seatbelt securely fastened. But also remember how it unfastens.

In 2007, Popular Mechanics magazine analyzed data for crashes since 1971 and found that more passengers near the tail of a plane survived crashes than those in the first few rows up front. But in more recent crashes, reports suggest that survivors were sat in the center of the plane. Many believe this section is safest because it is also the strongest part of the fuselage. However, the fuel tank is also located in the center.

A seat next to an exit does not always guarantee a speedy evacuation, since some exits may not function after an accident. And while an aisle seat may ensure an easier exit, you are also at risk from falling objects from overhead lockers. An errant bottle of duty free is also a more common occurrence than an air crash.

Check for a life jacket before taking off. It will be in a plastic casing, usually under the seat. Do not inflate your jacket in the plane. Many of the 123 who were killed in the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 off the Comoro Islands near Africa in 1996 had inflated their jackets in the cabin. This meant that they were unable to dive and reach the exits when the cabin flooded.


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Questions

Choose the correct explanations for the following phrases.
  1. Get in tune with your environment” means
  2. “the TAIL of a plane” is
  3. AVOID wearing high heels” means
  4. “Remember how it UNFASTENS” means
  5. If you HEED the advice, it means you
Are the following statements about the article true or false?

1. The industry-wide accident rate is just one accident per half million flights.

2. Every type of airplane has the same safety instructions.

3. You should never inflate your life jacket in the plane.

4. There is no place that could be called “safer than others”.

5. Experience and statistics show that if there is an air crash, you will most probably die.


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