New Scientist's Invention blog reports on a new way to save lives during crash landings. An inventor in Bangkok thinks it would be a good idea to load the planes with explosives on one wing to slow the sliding of an out of control airplane:
Normally, when a crash landing is inevitable and no runway is in sight, a pilot would make a controlled belly flop to prevent the plane from ploughing into any buildings nearby.
But Polchai Phanumphai's idea is for aircraft to spin their way down instead. As a suitably fitted-out plane prepares to crash down, an altimeter would trigger explosive charges to make one wing break away from the fuselage and kick the one-winged plane into a horizontal spin.
Phanumphai says the spinning motion would produce lift in the same way as a helicopter's blades, while the centrifugal force should keep the body level. So, the inventor says, the falling plane ought to hit the ground relatively slowly.
...it ought to hit the ground relatively slowly, or it could helicopter off like a spining ball of fire and take out half the airport with it.
Aside from the fabulous amount of money that we have already spent trying to get explosives out of aircraft, you really have to laud this man for thinking outside the box.