WASHINGTON—According to a new study published by the National Transportation Safety Board, 90 percent of successful plane landings are "this close" to ending with the aircraft pinwheeling down the runway and exploding into a fireball of twisted metal and charred flesh. "We found that when passengers think they're hearing the landing gear being lowered, that's actually the sound of the plane's fuselage coming apart at the seams as the flight-control system fails," said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman, adding how remarkable it is that the wheels don't break off immediately after making contact with the tarmac. "Further, when the plane lands, every bump, big or small, basically means the pilots are fighting with all their might to prevent the aircraft from crashing into the airport terminal." The study found that in nearly all cockpit recordings, the last few moments before touchdown are filled with the pilots screaming for their lives, praying to God, or trying to say one final goodbye to a loved one.