How lessons learned from Kegworth disaster transformed airline safety

A number of safety improvements were made by the airline industry as a result of lessons learned from the Kegworth air disaster.

These include better communication between the cockpit and the cabin, as well as more focus on preparing passengers for emergencies.

Memorial events are taking place to mark 30 years since the disaster, which took place on the night of January 8 1989.

The pilots of the British Midland Boeing 737 mistakenly shut down the correctly-working right-hand engine after loud bangs were heard coming from the left-hand engine.

When the commander broadcast to the cabin that this action had been taken, the passengers and cabin crew did not alert him to the error despite some of them seeing the original malfunction to the left-hand engine.

Kegworth memorial
Kegworth memorial

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that passengers would be unlikely to think they could contribute to a pilot’s understanding of a situation, while cabin crew would be concerned that any intrusion into the flight deck during busy periods could be a distraction.

In the aftermath of the crash, airlines across the world began giving Cockpit Resource Management training to their staff.

This teaches that more information should be shared between pilots in the cockpit, while cabin crew should have the confidence to challenge flight crew if they believe a mistake has been made.

Air disaster anniversary marked
Air disaster anniversary marked

Although 47 people were killed and 74 suffered serious injuries, including broken legs, some passengers escaped with minor cuts and bruises.

Nottingham surgeon Professor Angus Wallace studied the incident and found that many people did not adopt a brace position, causing their feet to shoot forward under the seat in front.

Mr Wallace developed the brace position which was adopted by UK airlines.

Airlines now place a much greater emphasis on encouraging passengers to take such action, including through the use of pictorial safety briefing cards behind each seat.