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ABC's Good Morning America previewed what appears to be a very cool Discovery TV safety experiment that placed nearly half-a-million dollars worth of instrumented crash dummies on a Boeing 727 that it crashed into the desert.

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According to biomechanical expert, Cindy Bir, two things primarily influenced the degree of injury: (1) seat selection, and (2) bracing for impact.

The plane was crashed in a nose-first belly flop. Because of the position, passengers in the front of the plane received the brunt of the force and rows 1 through 7 were all considered "fatal" seats (not so good to be a First Class passenger in that situation). Much of the plane's structural reinforcement is located where the wings attach toward the middle of the plane. This area is more likely to remain intact.

Passengers can also increase survivability by taking an appropriate crash position — bending over your knees while interlacing your fingers over the back of your head. Many of the seat-belted dummies that were not bent over in the bracing position suffered spinal cord injuries from jerking forward in their seat belts – a common injury in collisions in which the occupant is protected by a lap belt only – rather than a 3-point seat belt harness. A proper brace position also helps protects the passenger from the massive debris that results during a plane crash.

The Discovery Channel will air a feature length documentary on the crash and findings this Sunday.

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(c) Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.

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