New crash worthy technologies coming to an airplane near you.

by Mike
Posted June 30th, 2009 at 8:23 am

Automobile safety has taken great strides over the years. Perhaps one of the greatest advancements, (next to seatbelts of course), was the airbag. Instead of worring about your face melting into the steering wheel, occupants could now walk away with much less painfull and severe injuries thanks to these little bagged wonders. Airplane safety to many seems pretty simple — don’t fall out of the sky. But it’s really more than that. Even in minor crashes, many people still can and do die either because of trama suffered when seats come loose, their heads hit the seats around them, or when they are knocked unconscious and the plane is consumed by fire. All are not favorable scenerios. However, a new rule going into effect on Oct. 27 2009 will require all new planes and planes using designs and/or built/certified before 1988 to have newer, sturdier “16 G” seats and airbags.

It is worth noting that many planes have had the 16 G seats pre-installed for quite some time. Airbags too have been installed in the higher end sections such as first class. However, the new rule will require that the older planes must also now comply. Those planes that use the older pre-1988 designs aren’t nearly as prevalent today as they have been replaced by more fuel efficient and updated aircraft. Still, the new rule will ensure optimum safety for flyers on all ages of aircraft.

In regards to the 16 G seats, the name refers to the amount of G forces the seats can withstand before dislodging from the cabin floor. These stronger seats again are to be mandatory on all planes, replacing the older and less sturdy 9 G seats. It’s also worth noting that building seats to withstand forces higher than 16G’s don’t really make much sense as the human body can’t survive forces that are any stronger. To put it in perspective, a 16 G force is the equivelant of going from 30 mph to a standstill practically instantaneously.

The airbag requirement will require airbags installed in between seats with larger spaces between them either infront of or in some form near the seat belt to better protect flyers in the event of an accident, such as touching down short or rolling off the runway. These types of instances are very survivable but often have unfortunate death tolls because of unconscious flyers and fire that may break out.

While these above to technologies don’t really seem like “technology” at all, they are in fact notable improvements that will make flying all the more safer. Just think of some of the advances in automobile technology that have come about the last several years and then look at airplanes. While some adaptation would be needed, there is still room for air safety to grow and carry over auto technology in efforts to even further increase air safety. What do you think will come up next.

Source: NYT, Image Source

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