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Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?  
User currently offlinefalstaff From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 6159 posts, RR: 29
Posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3609 times:
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I heard a story on WWJ radio (950 AM), in Detroit, today that reported that the FAA is recommending that new small aircraft be equipped with automotive style airbags and seat belts. I wonder how feasible this is? I can see the seatbelt thing being a fairly easy modification, but going by what I know about automotive airbags, they are complicated and take up space. How would such a system work in a small plane?


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14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5582 posts, RR: 28
Reply 1, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3599 times:

I am uncertain as to what they might do with seat belts - most aircraft seatbelts are at least as robust as automotive ones.

My plane has a shoulder harness system which is better than the typical auto shoulder belt. It is true that many older planes (like mine) were built without shoulder belts, but many have also been retrofitted since. I would not consider flying in the front seat of a plane with no shoulder belt.

As for air bags, that is not likely to happen in broad release, because (simply stated) the expense of engineering and installing these would make the almost-moribund GA industry collapse.

Better belts are the answer.

Now, there is a new product called "Amsafe," which incorporates airbags into seatbelts, and they are pretty sound engineering and relatively easily fitted.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineFly2hmo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 3557 times:

Quoting falstaff (Thread starter):
I heard a story on WWJ radio (950 AM), in Detroit, today that reported that the FAA is recommending that new small aircraft be equipped with automotive style airbags and seat belts. I wonder how feasible this is? I can see the seatbelt thing being a fairly easy modification, but going by what I know about automotive airbags, they are complicated and take up space. How would such a system work in a small plane?

Sounds like a typical crappy and misunderstood media aviation report.

Airbags have been standard in many GA planes for several years now. Cessna was the first to use them in the C172 IIRC, our school's planes had the airbags on the seat belts, which is the AMSAFE system sccutler mentioned. It's lightweight, cost effective, and MX free.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXy4ZTZmIZc


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 3499 times:

The recommendation came about because NASA did some research several years back into the actual cause of death in many GA crashes. They determined (using a bunch of Piper Comanche and Aztec airframes that were destroyed by the 1972 Lock Haven Flood and crash dummies) that getting impaled on the yoke or having your sternum broken by it was a pretty common fatal injury, followed closely by eating the instrument panel (blunt force trauma to the face and chest). The first step was that the manufacturers finally got serious about installing shoulder harnesses. Also, if you notice, from about 1978-on, the padded yoke became standard in all the Cessnas (previous models lacked the pad, unless they've been retrofitted). FAR Part 23 requires seats be able to take G-loadings just like airline seats. CAR 3 (the grandfather of Part 23), which most GA planes are certified to, has no such requirement.

I think, though that there are many more ways you could kill yourself in an airplane where the airbags would do you no good (stall/spin accidents and collisions with cumulus granitus come to mind   )   



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineGAIsweetGAI From Norway, joined Jul 2006, 934 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks ago) and read 3493 times:

I just read this article this evening:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...le/2011/01/10/AR2011011007180.html

Quote:
The National Transportation Safety Board is set to release a study on Tuesday of 138 accidents involving general aviation planes equipped with air bags.

So this time it's the NTSB pitching in. I might just try to find that report and read it when it gets released.



"There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
User currently offlinecitationjet From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2459 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks ago) and read 3476 times:

Here is the NTSB press release today:
http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2011/110111.html

The five-Member Board voted to adopt six safety recommendations, all directed to the Federal Aviation Administration:

1. Require manufacturers to modify restraint systems vulnerable to being used incorrectly in newly built GA airplanes and to modify restraints in existing airplanes.

2. Revise the guidance and certification standards for restraint systems to reduce the likelihood of misuse.

3. Modify the guidance to GA airbag manufacturers as to how they should demonstrate that an airbag design provides adequate protection for a greater range of body sizes, including very small and very large individuals.

4. Require the retrofitting of shoulder harnesses on all general aviation airplanes that are not currently equipped with such restraints.

5. Evaluate the feasibility of requiring airbag-equipped aircraft to capture and record crash dynamics data to determine whether the system performed as designed.

6. Develop a system to track safety equipment, such as restraint systems, airbags, and aircraft parachutes, designed to improve crash outcomes.

It says the complete safety study will be available on the NTSB website in several weeks



Boeing Flown: 701,702,703;717;720;721,722;731,732,733,734,735,737,738,739;741,742,743,744,747SP;752,753;762,763;772,773.
User currently offlineWingscrubber From UK - England, joined Sep 2001, 853 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3331 times:

On a slight tangent, here is an article/clip about helicopter crash shock absorbers.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/1...helicopter-crash-tes_n_386795.html

I was expecting an airbag to deploy but they were already inflated, seems to work as energy absorbing cushions.

Here is another youtube clip on Amsafe airbags...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FboAm9RqUXM



Resident TechOps Troll
User currently offlineDiamondFlyer From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1599 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3329 times:

This has got to be a joke, it doesn't take a genius to realize airbags are safer than no airbags. That said, not getting out of bed is safer than doing things everyday. At some point people have to accept risk and clearly general aviation is an area that risk is likely to be accepted in. Luckily, for those aircraft owners out there, the FAA typically ignores what the NTSB tells it to do. Couple that with the fact that AOPA will surely come out swinging against the recommendation of retrofitting everything, this thing is probably still-born, or at least still-born for already built airplanes.

-DiamondFlyer

[Edited 2011-01-12 20:53:36]

User currently offlinelowrider From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 3220 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3262 times:

I like the idea of airbags and think there is a fair amount of protection to be gained from them, however I would be opposed to any rule mandating them for Part 91 operations. I think that people should have the option of adding them if they desire. Part of sound judgement is risk evaluation. If someone decides that the expense outweighs the benefit, they should have that option. When you are dealing with holding out a service to the general public; i.e. Part 135 or part 121, then that changed the equation enough in my mind to mandate them.


Proud OOTSK member
User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8956 posts, RR: 60
Reply 9, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3253 times:
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Does the presence of airbag belts reduce insurance costs at all?


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User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 3246 times:

Quoting citationjet (Reply 5):
1. Require manufacturers to modify restraint systems vulnerable to being used incorrectly in newly built GA airplanes and to modify restraints in existing airplanes.

More than once in a Cessna, I've reached for something, only to hear the clink of the shoulder harness which somehow worked its way loose  Wow!
Quoting 2H4 (Reply 9):
Does the presence of airbag belts reduce insurance costs at all?

Life or airframe?  



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineFredT From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2002, 2185 posts, RR: 26
Reply 11, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 3086 times:

While airbags of course are beneficial, in the right circumstances, there are a couple of things I'd like to see before we mandate them.

Manual inertia reel locks.
Helmets.
Four-point harnesses.
Five-point harnesses.
Belt tighteners.

In cars these days, the structural integrity of the "cabin" is often very well preserved. Hitting the inside is thus a major cause of death and injury, rendering airbags very effective. In flimsier structures, where the engine block passing through the occupants is a more common cause of death, their benefit is significantly reduced. It simply does you no good to have the engine block preceded by the airbag installation.  

Can't believe we're not retrofitting the automotive-style inertia reel three-point harnesses. Problem is of course you have to find good places to anchor better harnesses to the structure, meaning it is not all that simple.



I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
User currently offlinesccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5582 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (3 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3037 times:

Quoting FredT (Reply 11):


Can't believe we're not retrofitting the automotive-style inertia reel three-point harnesses. Problem is of course you have to find good places to anchor better harnesses to the structure, meaning it is not all that simple.

Fred, there are a great many aircraft which, built without shoulder harnesses, are having them retrofitted quite handily. My Bonanza is one such plane, and I would not own an aircraft without them.

http://www.basinc-aeromod.com/



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlinemaxpower1954 From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 1144 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (3 years 10 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 2713 times:

And Cessnas from 1952 on have the rivnut already installed in the rear spar carry-thru by the factory for shoulder harnesses! I installed a front seat set a few months back in my 1957 172 for about 100 bucks and 30 minutes work. I too, will not fly a GA airplane without them.

Russ Farris


User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8956 posts, RR: 60
Reply 14, posted (3 years 10 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2670 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR

Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 13):
my 1957 172

Nice. An old, straight-tail 172 is on my list of "Dream planes that I might actually manage to own one day". I'd love to see photos of it.



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