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falstaff
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Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:52 pm

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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sccutler
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:14 pm

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.
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Fly2HMO
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:12 pm

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
 
KELPkid
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:16 pm

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   )   
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GAIsweetGAI
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:58 pm

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.
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citationjet
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:21 pm

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
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wingscrubber
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:40 am

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
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:52 am

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]
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lowrider
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:42 pm

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.
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2H4
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:30 pm

Does the presence of airbag belts reduce insurance costs at all?
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KELPkid
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:51 pm

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?  
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FredT
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:10 pm

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.
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sccutler
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:30 am

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.

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maxpower1954
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:11 am

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.

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2H4
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RE: Airbags In Small Aircraft Needed?

Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:26 pm

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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