A British Airways training film has surfaced from the 1970s, dealing with the procedure when an aircraft is ditching. This was shown when cabin crew went for their annual safety and emergency procedures (SEP) training at Cranebank.

The aircraft featured is a Boeing 747, which certainly provides plenty of space to create a training video. A lot of the elements in the presentation continue to be relevant today, so it’s worth checking out.

Ditching Film

Running for just over 20 minutes, the video covers everything from the initial alert through to life rafts floating in the ocean. Scenes inside the jumbo were shot at Heathrow, while the sea scenes were shot off Sandbanks Beach in Dorset.

It is interesting that even the training this far back advises not to let people inflate their life jackets inside the cabin. Many people survived the ditching of the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 and subsequently perished when trapped inside the cabin by their inflated life jackets.

Selecting able bodied passengers to assist is still something that is in the plans today. It did amuse me to see the passenger “who might cause special problems” sucking down a large drink and then re-appearing later as the guy who also can’t swim!

What is fascinating as well is just how much equipment is on those rafts. You could potentially survive for days by the looks of things, which I guess is quite reassuring.

Overall Thoughts

An airliner ditching in the sea is extremely rare indeed. In fact, apart from the one I mentioned above from 1996, only ALM flight 980 in 1970 and of course US Airways 1549 (commonly known these days as “The Miracle on the Hudson“) spring to mind.

Even so, it is good to see that the aviation industry has training in place for this kind of event. It’s one reason flying continues to be one of the safest modes of travel on the planet.

What do you think of the ditching training video? If you’re crew, how similar is it to how you’re trained today? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Gordon Bevan G B_NZ on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.