Boulder City Magazine® May 2010 Issue
by Ihla Crowley
Guess what’s coming to an airline near you. Yup, airbags. In fact, according to an article in USA Today by Bill McGee, they’re “quickly becoming ubiquitous.”
Boulder City Magazine®
|McGee says that a common misconception is that a commercial airline accident is all or nothing either disaster is averted or everyone dies. However, a study done by the National Transportation Safety Board examining survivability of commercial accidents between 1983 and 2000, found a 95.7% survival rate in 528 of the 568 accidents recorded during that period. Since 2001, these numbers have gotten even better, primarily due to improvements in cockpit and cabin crew training, and aircraft engineering.
Another factor for improved survivability is that a new regulation imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration took effect last October, imposing the requirement that passengers be able to withstand forces equal to 16 gs, up from the previous requirement of 9 gs. Although the rule doesn’t require airlines to retrofit airplanes already in service, any new aircraft manufactured as of October 27, 2009 must be compliant to the 16 g rule. There are many ways that this can be accomplished, but the one that seems to be the most appealing to the airlines (because it is the alternative adding the least amount of weight), is airbags.
In 2001, a Phoenix-based company known as AmSafe put the first airline airbags into use onboard commercial aircraft, and they can now be found on 40,000 seats. Take a look next time you fly. You can recognize it if the fixed portion of your seat belt (the nonbuckle end) is thicker, measures about ¾” and has a leather cover.
So you may be thinking that’s a pretty small space between you and the seat in front of you to be having a pressurized airbag traveling at more than 500 miles per hour deployed. Think of what airbags in cars do to kids and the elderly. But don’t be alarmed. They are not like the ones in cars. They deploy away from you, not toward you.
It’s nice to know something is improving out there in the airline industry, isn’t it?
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