Passenger jet is crashed into the Mexican desert ON PURPOSE . . . all in the name of air SAFETY

With its fuselage torn to shreds and emergency workers seemingly looking on in vain, there was surely only one fate for the passengers of this Boeing 727.

Just as well, then, that those on board were only crash-test dummies used for a groundbreaking experiment into the effects of jet disasters.

The impact was pulled off deliberately for a documentary by the Discovery Channel and Channel 4 exploring the results of a ‘serious, but survivable’ crash-landing. The result is a terrifying collision which rips off the front of the jet in a cloud of sand, debris and twisted metal.

Scroll down for video of the crash

Groundbreaking: With its fuselage ripped in two, the deliberate crash-landing of this Boeing 727 in the Mexican desert shows just how devastating such an impact can have. The collision was filmed for a documentary and subjected to scientific tests in an effort to further understand 'serious, but survivable' crashes and improve safety

They flew the Boeing over a remote part of the Mexican desert before allowing it to smash into the ground. On this occasion the jet, which can carry up to 170 passengers, contained only crash-test dummies and dozens of interior cameras to film the sequence.

A pilot had earlier flown the jet out to a Mexican desert and ejected a matter of minutes before the aircraft was remotely crashed into the ground.

The experiment was designed for scientists to study the crash-worthiness of the aircraft’s airframe and cabin as well as the impact of crashes on the human body.

It is the first time in almost 30 years a passenger plane has been crashed on purpose for a scientific experiment. The last time was in 1984 when NASA teamed up with the FAA to crash a Boeing 720 into the Mojave Desert in California, USA.

Going down: The Boeing 727, which can normally carry 170 passengers, plunges into the ground in a remote-controlled descent moments after the pilot ejects

Amateur footage of the crash shows the plane heading into the desert floor while a helicopter flies alongside with a film crew.

The latest experiment is expected to give a better insight into a crash landing thanks to the benefit of improved filming and remote control technology. The show is the result of four years’ work by London-based TV company Dragonfly Film and Television Productions.

Sanjay Singhal, executive producer of the documentary, said: ‘We felt the time was right to do it again.

‘It has never been safer to fly, but we want to use this as an opportunity to provide scientific data that might help to improve passenger safety in those extremely rare cases when a catastrophic aircraft accident does occur.

‘This has been an extraordinary feat of organisation, involving up to 300 people on location, including the production team, pilots, experts, risk management, plus local crew, military, fire teams and police.’

The plane was crashed in a remote and unpopulated part of the Sonoran Desert of Baja California, Mexico. The location was chosen after an extensive international search to find a suitable location offering the perfect conditions for this ground-breaking scientific project.

First for 30 years: The aircraft, which was loaded with crash-test dummies and cameras, sends sand and debris shooting into the air as it careers into the desert floor

For safety reasons, an exclusion zone at the crash site was manned by security teams, as well as the Mexican military and police. Ahead of the crash, a full safety review of the project was undertaken by the highly-qualified pilots and commanders as well as the Mexican authorities which concluded that it was safe for all concerned.

Following the crash, the aircraft will be salvaged and an extensive environmental clean-up operation is being carried out by a reputable agency with the full co-operation of the Mexican authorities.

David Glover, Channel 4 senior commissioning editor, added: ‘This is a ground-breaking project, allowing a team of leading international scientists and crash investigators the first chance for a generation to study the crash of an entire passenger jet.

‘The scientists are also looking at passenger safety, plus new ‘black box’ flight data recording technology.

‘They have been hugely enthusiastic supporters of the project and couldn’t wait to get to the crash site. Despite long careers, none of them have seen a plane crash before their eyes like this before.

‘We hope that this documentary will provide valuable new scientific results as well as giving passengers vital information about how they can improve their own chances of surviving the extremely unlikely, but frightening, prospect of being in a serious plane crash.’

Channel 4 says it will not be releasing official footage of the crash until shortly before the documentary is due to be aired later this year.