Consumer groups raise questions about crash

July 8, 2013 9:44:41 PM PDT
There was so much relief that so many walked away from the Asiana Flight 214 crash at SFO that a central question has been, for many, overlooked. Shouldn't everyone have survived, with only minor injuries? 7 On Your Side has been looking into that critical issue.

Consumer groups and advocates are calling on federal authorities to do a thorough examination of passenger safety. They want to use this tragedy to protect passengers in the future.

When so many walked away uninjured there was a sigh of relief. Then we found there are many who were not so lucky, and now the tough questions are being asked.

"Why is it that we have a 2006 aircraft with 1960's seatbelt technology? That's outrageous," said attorney Frank Pitre from Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.

Pitre has represented passengers in airline accidents in court before and has received calls about this crash. He is haunted by the interior set up of airliners.

"You have airbags in cars. You have three-point harness in a car. You have stronger seatbacks in cars. So why can't you reconfigure the same thing in aircraft?" asked Pitre.

And it is not just the seats themselves, but how many there are in a plane. Paul Hudson is the president of Flyers Rights -- the largest passenger right's organization in the country.

"In general, the airlines, without any restrictions, have been allowed to shrink what is called the pitch, the distance between seats and rows and also the size of the seats and we think that needs to be very much reviewed by the FAA," said Hudson.

On Monday the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, echoed those concerns saying every seat, every passenger would be reviewed.

"Our survival factors team will be documenting over 300 seats on the aircraft. We want to identify their condition and their performance, how they were damaged. And we also want to understand where the occupants were sitting, how they were injured, what the injury mechanism was and if they were using restraints," said Hersman.

I will keep track of the passenger safety aspects of this investigation and will report back. We've reached out to the airline industry. When we hear back from then and hear their thoughts on this, we'll report on that as well.


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