We always wonder why don’t airline provide Parachute instead of Life Jacket. because there are several reason is in connected. Let’s have a look at.
- Only 8% of plane accidents with fatalities occur during cruising – an organized exit using parachutes is usually not possible during the other stages of flight.
- Plane accidents at cruising are usually caused by events that do not permit organized parachuted exits:
- Inclement weather – Weather that affects a commercial plane is unlikely to allow a parachuted human to survive
- Unexpected depressurization – It is dangerous to be untethered from one’s seat during rapid depressurization, such as that caused by a part of the fuselage breaking away. Slower depressurization can be safely offset by low altitude cruising and does not require an exit. If undetected, there is a higher likelihood that crew and passengers will simply pass out without realizing it.
- Mid-air collisions – Mostly with flocks of birds, but the response time allowed by such events is not sufficient for an organized mid-air exit
- On-board fire or explosion – Again, too little time to respond
- Crew error – Given an accident can usually be avoided by correcting the error, it is unlikely that the pilot can focus away from trying to correct the issue long enough to orchestrate an organized exit.
- The only type of plane accidents that allow a parachuted exit are engine failures. There are 2 types of engine failures:
- Partial that allows cruising – This allows a precautionary landing. The fatality rate from a precautionary landing is only 0.06%, so it would be unwise to send passengers out on their own in parachutes.
- Complete that requires gliding (quite rare) – There are 2 types of landings that are currently attempted – a forced landing (10% fatality rate) and a water ditching (20% fatality rate). However, these situations are also of very short duration that makes an organized exit of a large number of passengers unlikely. Most fatalities are caused due to weather and terrain conditions that would make a parachute jump even more risky. In the case of water ditching, half the fatalities are actually caused by hypothermia, which would be much worse if passengers were disbursed via parachute jumps without the benefit of aircraft life rafts.
- Other practical challenges:
- Parachutes require 4-5 hours of training for safe operation.
- A typical parachute deployment pack with main chute, reserve and automatic deployment system costs $6,000 – $8,000, and this is without the altimeter or suit. They also require frequent inspection and maintenance.
- Adding parachutes to commercial planes will add several thousand pounds of weight – roughly $30 per passenger for a 200-passenger round-trip flight in just fuel costs. Costs escalate quickly for partially filled flights.
- Typical parachutes are intended for an operator weight rating of 220lbs. Safety equipment for aircraft need to be able to take much larger passenger weights, at least 300lbs, which requires special parachutes, which are also more bulky and expensive.
- An exit of several hundred passengers on parachutes will require them to be dropped off in small groups at a time (i.e. prolonged cruising), at low speeds, at low altitude, in mild terrain, and in mild weather conditions. The existence of all these conditions at once is extremely unlikely in an impending crash scenario.
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