Nightly News   |  July 07, 2013

Airplanes designed to keep passengers alive

Modern airplanes are designed to help protect passengers when catastrophe happens in the sky, and they have been largely successful in preventing causalities. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to pressing concerns over passenger safety in the wake of the asiana airlines jet crash. while there was a tragic loss of life, aviation investigators are also pointing how many were able to escape. nbc's tom cotell la recently visited the center about surviving a crash.

>> reporter: investigators say that the fact that so many people survived this says a lot about how modern aircraft are built. seats are made to absorb much of a sudden impact so passengers aren't catapulted through the plane. it's working. everyone survived this arena airlines plain crash in 2009 . the continental crash in denver in 2008 . and the crash landing in toronto in 2005 . and no faye tailize during the miracle on the hudson in 2009 . getting out a live usually comes down to seconds. here in oklahoma city , they recreate plane crashes to study what it takes to survive. time is of the essence . at 30 seconds, smoke can start filling the body of the plane. at 60 seconds , the burning plastics, fuel, fabrics, can all turn this smoke toxic. getting out is critical. at two minutes there's now a serious risk of a flashover and fire engulfing the entire cabin.

>> you want to stay low with your head below the tops and see backs. use your armrests for support. and come to the colored lights which mean your at the exit.

>> reporter: leave your carry on luggage behind. one passenger insisted opposite grabbing her personal belongings during the miracle on the hudson.

>> one lady had her coat and several bags.

>> leave it behind and get off the airplane as quickly as you can.

>> reporter: as severe weathers look at what went wrong in san san francisco, they will also assess what went right.