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Why So Few Seatbelt Manufacturers?  
User currently onlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25332 posts, RR: 22
Posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6684 times:

It seems that virtually every aircraft I've flown on for years has seatbelts made by Amsafe, that look much like those in the link below.
http://www.amsafe.com/products/detail.php?id=3&type=categories

Seatbelts don't seem to be an exceptionally hgh-tech product, with only a few parts. What is it that seems to give Amsafe a virtual monopoly?

I recall AF once used a different type of seatbelt (probably made in France) but even they now use the Amsafe belts.

[Edited 2011-01-10 16:00:58]

[Edited 2011-01-10 16:34:26]

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offline1337Delta764 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6661 times:

The Contour Solar Business Class Suites use a proprietary seatbelt that release with a button rather than a lever.


The Pink Delta 767-400ER - The most beautiful aircraft in the sky
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6631 times:

Nitch market.. and I'm sure very high liability insurance.


"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlineCharlieNoble From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6573 times:

I don't know why they are the only ones...but it is a brilliant design.

Rugged and even the biggest idiot on earth can operate them.


User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5822 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6446 times:

How many manufacturers of seatbelts do we need in this industry? I mean, it's a seatbelt.
If there are design requirement changes, then AMSAFE is in the best position to implement them and continue forward, rather than some new startup giving it a shot and failing. Oh wait, I have an idea:
LET'S LET KOITO DO IT!!!!!
 


User currently offlineMarkHKG From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 6399 times:

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 1):
Contour Solar Business Class Suites use a proprietary seatbelt that release with a button rather than a lever.

These push-button seat belts are actually manufactured by Amsafe: they are the new airbag seat belts. (Herringbone seats typically require airbags or a shoulder belt to meet the 16 G survival rule during dynamic testing). Amsafe is one of only two companies with airbag seat belts (the other being Goodrich, but I haven't seen many carriers use their airbags).

Quoting Viscount724 (Thread starter):
years has seatbelts made by Amsafe

There are a few smaller companies out there. Aircraft Belts Inc and Davis Aircraft Products (makes all the restraints for Southwest Airlines aircrafts...not a small number!) are two that come to mind. Southwest Airlines seat belts always felt unusual to me with the short, compact metal tongue...but ultimately it is TSO certified.



Release your seat-belts and get out! Leave everything!
User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6260 times:

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 2):
I'm sure very high liability insurance.

That was the first thing that came to my mind.


User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 6139 times:

a bit off topic but why do the CX seat belts have an air bag installed? it makes the seat belt so much more uncomfortable. especially when you want to rest.

User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5822 posts, RR: 11
Reply 8, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 6027 times:

Quoting LAX888 (Reply 7):
a bit off topic but why do the CX seat belts have an air bag installed? it makes the seat belt so much more uncomfortable. especially when you want to rest.

There are new regs in effect which say something along the lines of the passenger has to be able to withstand a 16G load, and there must be a cushion between the passenger and any hard objects.... or something like that. So, on certain bulkhead rows, the belts have bags. And, in many herringbone J classes, the belts must have bags, since "forward" motion means hitting your cranium on the SIDE of the seat in "front" of you.... everything gets so confusing when the seat is angled at 30 degrees...

I hope that helps.


User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 5958 times:

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 8):

Ok thanks a lot AA737-823! So what triggers the air bag? In a car it usually is a sensor which triggers the air bag when a certain amount of force hits the car if I am not mistaken. Also doesn't the airbag insure the pax since you usually fasten your seat belt low and tight? In a car the air bag is a few inches away from your body and they say you should not adjust your seat so you are to near the air bag.


User currently offlineMarkHKG From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 5923 times:

Quoting LAX888 (Reply 9):
So what triggers the air bag?

A sensor box is mounted typically under the seat, which detects the impact. The sensor box can be linked to one seat (like herringbone seats), or a set of three seats (like those in Economy class style seats).

Quoting LAX888 (Reply 9):
few inches away from your body and they say you should not adjust your seat so you are to near the air bag.

This airbag is different to a car airbag because it deploys AWAY from the person, rather than towards (which is what is found in a car's steering wheel or passenger side airbag). This way, the airbag is never "too near" you. The only real limitation with the system is that (i) The belt cannot be twisted and (ii) you cannot put a child safety seat in these seats. Sometimes aircraft that have these airbag seatbelts can be disabled with a special deactivation strap for use with the child safety seat, but some airlines simply forbid child safety seats on these seats with installed airbags (eg Cathay Pacific, Air Canada)



Release your seat-belts and get out! Leave everything!
User currently offlineeoinnz From New Zealand, joined Jul 2003, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5753 times:

Quoting CharlieNoble (Reply 3):
Rugged and even the biggest idiot on earth can operate them.

In day to day normal operation yes, but when in an emergency it has proven more difficult. It was shown to me in some research that in an emergency people initially responded by trying to release the seatbelt like a car seatbelt instead of lifting a lever. That is why the Qantas A380 has push button seat belts in all seats and classes.


User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1545 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5707 times:

Quoting Viscount724 (Thread starter):
Seatbelts don't seem to be an exceptionally hgh-tech product, with only a few parts. What is it that seems to give Amsafe a virtual monopoly?
Quoting EMBQA (Reply 2):
Nitch market.. and I'm sure very high liability insuranc

Viscount724's question has to my mind not been satisfactorily answered. How many seatbelt-related court cases are there out there? How many have ever made the news? IMO, I doubt that product liability is a significant obstacle to manufacturers seeking to enter the market for such a very low-tech product.

But then we don't have market share info at hand: what brand of seatbelt do LCC's other than WN install, and what about charter and third-world carriers? I would not be surprised if it were another make than Amsafe. Perhaps Amsafe hold critical safety patents, perhaps like Microsoft in the early days they employ aggressive 'market rentention' tactics. It would also be interesting to know since when Amsafe has been dominating the seatbelt market and who were the main manufacturers before then.

Perhaps it's a question of airlines practicing an extreme example of if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it policy. Seatbelts are not only very low-tech but also low-price and very low-maintenance items (how many times are they replaced over the life of an airliner?). Maybe the fact that maintenance cost is not an issue makes it easier for airlines to stick to one brand since the investment decision is simplified.

I for one would not be surprised if some Asian firm one day decided to make the necessary capital investment to enter the seatbelt market big time. We would then have a new Airbus to Amsafe's entrenched Boeing...

Faro

[Edited 2011-01-14 04:10:28]


The chalice not my son
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