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dfwjim1
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Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:28 pm

I recently flew from DFW to SFO and then SFO to CLT on American Airlines (A-321s). On both flights the flight attendants demonstrated how to use the life vests and pointed out where the life rafts were located in the plane. I imagine giving out this information is required by the FAA but it seemed like a total waste of time as the only large body of water that my flights flew over was San Francisco Bay.

Anyway got me to thinking...with ETOPS and all of the advancements in aircraft reliability and safety are life rafts and vests really necessary in commercial aircraft? The only survivable commercial aircraft crash in recent history that I can think of is the U.S. Airways ditching in the Hudson River. So with all of the advanced technology and the extremely unlikely event of a commercial aircraft ditching would the airline industry be better served if vests and rafts were eliminated from their aircraft? I could only imagine that the fuel savings and maintenance costs would be substantial.
 
qcpilotxf
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:02 pm

A lot of these aircraft rotate through the US, Canada, The Caribbean, and Mexico every day. If one plane can do it so can another. It is easier to equip all aircraft than create a sub fleet to fly the Caribbean and Mexico legs. The FAA requires all aircraft to have these rafts more than 50 miles off-shore.
 
opticalilyushin
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:14 pm

As someone who travels a lot but cannot swim, I wouldn't feel comfortable being on a flight where the airline actively get rid of the vests.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:19 pm

Yes, absolutely. I recently went through the wet-drill, and swimming with clothes on is hard. Even harder if the water is cold. Life jackets are also easier to spot from search aircraft or boats.

And as mentioned above, many of those jets already rotate through watery areas, and as OP himself mentioned, San Francisco Bay, but also other waterfront airports, during the approach. Landings and takeoff are the two segments where most accidents will happen.

That having been said, I believe rafts are only mandatory if you stay within a certain distance of land. I will have to look up the specific rules again though.

:)
 
Adispatcher
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:25 pm

VSMUT wrote:
Yes, absolutely. I recently went through the wet-drill, and swimming with clothes on is hard. Even harder if the water is cold. Life jackets are also easier to spot from search aircraft or boats.

And as mentioned above, many of those jets already rotate through watery areas, and as OP himself mentioned, San Francisco Bay, but also other waterfront airports, during the approach. Landings and takeoff are the two segments where most accidents will happen.

That having been said, I believe rafts are only mandatory if you stay within a certain distance of land. I will have to look up the specific rules again though.

:)


Correct. And it depends on which coast and your latitude to determine the requirements, at least in the U.S.

I believe it is safer to brief passengers and crew on what is necessary regardless of the actual route because that aircraft may fly overland one leg and fly an off-shore JFK-MIA the next.
 
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litz
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:57 pm

Ask everyone on US 1549, or Lion Air 904 ... just two flights that ended up in the water.
 
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ro1960
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:54 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
the only large body of water that my flights flew over was San Francisco Bay


Because there is only one body of water chances of drowning are lessened?
Do not compensate for the lack of skills with a surplus of opinion.
 
ArmitageShanks
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:20 am

litz wrote:
Ask everyone on US 1549, or Lion Air 904 ... just two flights that ended up in the water.


How on Earth am I supposed to contact everyone on those flights? Can you point me in the right direction on how I might go about that? It would be interesting to know what they thought.
 
FlyBTV
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:46 am

VSMUT wrote:
That having been said, I believe rafts are only mandatory if you stay within a certain distance of land. I will have to look up the specific rules again though.


Greater than 50 miles from land triggers the life raft requirement for part 121 (airline) carriers. There is a nice chart summarizing the requirements on page 2 of this doc:

http://www.corpairparts.net/uploads/FAA ... _Rafts.pdf
 
greg85
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:25 pm

Do you remember when they thought that the Titanic wouldn't need life boats for everyone?

It's statistically very unlikely that the plane will have a fire, I suppose they could go without fire extinguishers too.
 
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XAM2175
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:29 pm

greg85 wrote:
Do you remember when they thought that the Titanic wouldn't need life boats for everyone?


The worst part is that the RMS Titanic actually carried four lifeboats more than the legislation in force at the time required, which had been prepared with the assumption they would only apply to vessels with a gross register tonnage not exceeding 10,000 tonnes. Indeed, at the time of the Titanic's sinking, 33 of the 39 passenger liners over 10,000 GRT on the British register did not carry a sufficient number of lifeboats, with the RMS Carmania in particular being in complete compliance with the law while carrying lifeboats sufficient for only 29% of her passengers and crew.
 
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Rookie87
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:00 am

ArmitageShanks wrote:
litz wrote:
Ask everyone on US 1549, or Lion Air 904 ... just two flights that ended up in the water.


How on Earth am I supposed to contact everyone on those flights? Can you point me in the right direction on how I might go about that? It would be interesting to know what they thought.



That was clearly sarcasm and wow lol you missed that.
Just because one flight goes through only one body of water doesn't mean it won't fly over any other bodies of water.
And just because the reliability has increased doesn't mean that it won't fail. Nothing is guaranteed. That's why aircrafts are built with redundant systems to back up the back up system if and when the first one fails.
Nothing is full proof and history has proven that over and over again. Who knew an aircraft could have had a double engine failure like what happened on US airways? And the post basically is pointing out to you, albeit sarcastically, if you were to ask the people on that flight that question, they'd most likely slap you.
 
26point2
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:12 pm

Speaking of San Francisco Bay being the "only" body of water along the OPs route Japan Airlines landed a DC-8 well short and ended up in the bay one day. Ironically, as the story goes, no one even got wet so life jackets not necessary.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_2
 
ArmitageShanks
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:12 pm

Rookie87 wrote:
ArmitageShanks wrote:
litz wrote:
Ask everyone on US 1549, or Lion Air 904 ... just two flights that ended up in the water.


How on Earth am I supposed to contact everyone on those flights? Can you point me in the right direction on how I might go about that? It would be interesting to know what they thought.



That was clearly sarcasm and wow lol you missed that.
Just because one flight goes through only one body of water doesn't mean it won't fly over any other bodies of water.
And just because the reliability has increased doesn't mean that it won't fail. Nothing is guaranteed. That's why aircrafts are built with redundant systems to back up the back up system if and when the first one fails.
Nothing is full proof and history has proven that over and over again. Who knew an aircraft could have had a double engine failure like what happened on US airways? And the post basically is pointing out to you, albeit sarcastically, if you were to ask the people on that flight that question, they'd most likely slap you.


Oh cool. I don't agree with the slapping though.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:46 pm

26point2 wrote:
Speaking of San Francisco Bay being the "only" body of water along the OPs route Japan Airlines landed a DC-8 well short and ended up in the bay one day. Ironically, as the story goes, no one even got wet so life jackets not necessary.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_2


Western Airlines flew a DC6B into the water late one night when going from OAK to SFO. back around 1952. Very few pax onboard and I don't think any of them survived. One stew did survive, and went on to fly until the eighties as I recall. BTW, she did not know how to swim.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:25 pm

I suspect the technical question is when and how life vests and rafts have saved lives in an air crash. Only after that is answered ought we to construct scenarios as to how the might save lives in the future. The best real life analogies are likely fishing boats going down, esp. in the NE Pacific.

I suspect that if not immediately rescued a good share of people wearing vests in cold water will die within the hour. A few will survive several hours. So then factor in how far and long rescue will be. The graph of survival is pretty grim unless the water is warm, and rescue is fairly close.
Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:17 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
I suspect the technical question is when and how life vests and rafts have saved lives in an air crash. Only after that is answered ought we to construct scenarios as to how the might save lives in the future. The best real life analogies are likely fishing boats going down, esp. in the NE Pacific.

I suspect that if not immediately rescued a good share of people wearing vests in cold water will die within the hour. A few will survive several hours. So then factor in how far and long rescue will be. The graph of survival is pretty grim unless the water is warm, and rescue is fairly close.

That is why rafts are required if shore is not close enough.
Now an interesting question is what kind of scenario can bring airliner to a mostly-controlled survivable ditch in the middle of the ocean. Dual engine failure - which has very low probability by ETOPS protocol - but is there anything else? Several accidents mentioned here were pretty close to the airport, and not failure at cruise...Help near the airport is probably less than an hour away, and airplane likely will stay afloat for that long anyway.
My impression is that water rescue equipment in use is largely feel-good tradition-driven type, not something designed to be actually used..
 
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TZTriStar500
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:27 pm

kalvado wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
I suspect the technical question is when and how life vests and rafts have saved lives in an air crash. Only after that is answered ought we to construct scenarios as to how the might save lives in the future. The best real life analogies are likely fishing boats going down, esp. in the NE Pacific.

I suspect that if not immediately rescued a good share of people wearing vests in cold water will die within the hour. A few will survive several hours. So then factor in how far and long rescue will be. The graph of survival is pretty grim unless the water is warm, and rescue is fairly close.

That is why rafts are required if shore is not close enough.
Now an interesting question is what kind of scenario can bring airliner to a mostly-controlled survivable ditch in the middle of the ocean. Dual engine failure - which has very low probability by ETOPS protocol - but is there anything else? Several accidents mentioned here were pretty close to the airport, and not failure at cruise...Help near the airport is probably less than an hour away, and airplane likely will stay afloat for that long anyway.
My impression is that water rescue equipment in use is largely feel-good tradition-driven type, not something designed to be actually used..


Survival equipment including life vests, rafts, and ELTs are most certainly designed for actual use and certified to TSO standards.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:30 am

TZTriStar500 wrote:
kalvado wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
I suspect the technical question is when and how life vests and rafts have saved lives in an air crash. Only after that is answered ought we to construct scenarios as to how the might save lives in the future. The best real life analogies are likely fishing boats going down, esp. in the NE Pacific.

I suspect that if not immediately rescued a good share of people wearing vests in cold water will die within the hour. A few will survive several hours. So then factor in how far and long rescue will be. The graph of survival is pretty grim unless the water is warm, and rescue is fairly close.

That is why rafts are required if shore is not close enough.
Now an interesting question is what kind of scenario can bring airliner to a mostly-controlled survivable ditch in the middle of the ocean. Dual engine failure - which has very low probability by ETOPS protocol - but is there anything else? Several accidents mentioned here were pretty close to the airport, and not failure at cruise...Help near the airport is probably less than an hour away, and airplane likely will stay afloat for that long anyway.
My impression is that water rescue equipment in use is largely feel-good tradition-driven type, not something designed to be actually used..


Survival equipment including life vests, rafts, and ELTs are most certainly designed for actual use and certified to TSO standards.

OK, at what is the maximum wave height was boarding into those rafts demonstrated? I can find a few videos where demos are done in enclosed pool. Considering that weather can be a contributing factor for the accident...
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:00 am

My assumption, were I in a plane going down mid-ocean or in the arctic would be that we were all going to die. Second, relax and be open to any possibility that survival and rescue were possible.
Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
 
BravoOne
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:42 am

The airline I use to work for hosted a "Ditching seminar" and invited all the airlines in the world to attend. Many were not able to attend but none the less there was at least 20+ airlines that showed up. To much discussed to report here but to say the least it was interesting, This was in the early 90's so the number of airplanes transiting oceanic airspace was considerable less than today.
 
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barney captain
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:39 pm

FlyBTV wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
That having been said, I believe rafts are only mandatory if you stay within a certain distance of land. I will have to look up the specific rules again though.


Greater than 50 miles from land triggers the life raft requirement for part 121 (airline) carriers. There is a nice chart summarizing the requirements on page 2 of this doc:

http://www.corpairparts.net/uploads/FAA ... _Rafts.pdf



That's interesting as our Ops Spes state -

Up to 50nm from shore - no equipment necessary.

From 50-162nm (north of 35 degrees and the west coast - 100nm) life vest only.

From 162nm up to 60 minutes from an alternate is where the life raft requirement kicks in.
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blacksoviet
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:11 pm

If you were to go down in San Francisco Bay, you would want to be in a life raft. It could take hours for enough rescue boats to be dispatched and all the passengers to be recovered. You might even be able to hold on to your carry-on bag.
 
LH707330
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:44 pm

XAM2175 wrote:
greg85 wrote:
Do you remember when they thought that the Titanic wouldn't need life boats for everyone?


The worst part is that the RMS Titanic actually carried four lifeboats more than the legislation in force at the time required, which had been prepared with the assumption they would only apply to vessels with a gross register tonnage not exceeding 10,000 tonnes. Indeed, at the time of the Titanic's sinking, 33 of the 39 passenger liners over 10,000 GRT on the British register did not carry a sufficient number of lifeboats, with the RMS Carmania in particular being in complete compliance with the law while carrying lifeboats sufficient for only 29% of her passengers and crew.

The rules are a bit obsolte then when the ship has 46,328 GRT....

blacksoviet wrote:
If you were to go down in San Francisco Bay, you would want to be in a life raft. It could take hours for enough rescue boats to be dispatched and all the passengers to be recovered. You might even be able to hold on to your carry-on bag.

A boat? In most of the bay, you could wade ashore, especially if you land short on one of the 28s
 
26point2
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:50 am

...you've clearly never tried to "wade" in SF Bay. Not possible. While it is shallow, average depth of SF Bay is about 6', the bottom is deep, thick mud and walking is impossible. I windsurfed in SF Bay for many years...near the SFO 28s many times too. You have to plan your outing around the tides so as not to get stranded on the mud.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:24 pm

The point being is that most water events do happen reasonably close to shore. The SAS DC8 accident back in the late sixties landed a considerable distance short of the runway while over Santa Monica Bay. Around the same time and same place, UAL lost a 727 although the nature of the accident precluded any survivors.
 
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UnitedIsBae
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:27 pm

I forgot the airline, but the were allowed not to carry lifevests and only seat cushions as their flotation device since they didn't fly over any major body of water.
If it ain't Boeing I ain't going PERIOD
 
BravoOne
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:22 pm

UnitedIsBae wrote:
I forgot the airline, but the were allowed not to carry lifevests and only seat cushions as their flotation device since they didn't fly over any major body of water.


Well what ever floats your boat:)
 
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UnitedIsBae
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:10 pm

BravoOne wrote:
UnitedIsBae wrote:
I forgot the airline, but the were allowed not to carry lifevests and only seat cushions as their flotation device since they didn't fly over any major body of water.

Well what ever floats your boat:)

lol
If it ain't Boeing I ain't going PERIOD
 
aklrno
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:44 am

I recall getting the life jacket briefing on flights from LAS to RNO. Its a good thing. Very little of the safety briefing soaks into most passengers mind. Repetition helps. So even if ditching is extremely unlikely it may help for a future event.

Also, just because a flight is scheduled to be over a desert doesn't mean that's a certainty. Diversions happen.
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:17 am

dfwjim1 wrote:
I imagine giving out this information is required by the FAA but it seemed like a total waste of time as the only large body of water that my flights flew over was San Francisco Bay.


In fact, if you are going to wind up in the drink, it's likely to be near your origin or destination, so if you are going to ditch, it will be in SF Bay. Generally speaking, an airliner at cruise is one of the safest places in the world to be. And *if* your aircraft should fall out of the sky at cruise, you will probably not survive it (AS 261, AF 447, etc.).

With rare exceptions (AC 143) the crashes people survive typically occur within about 120 seconds of takeoff or (what would have been) landing.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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Dalmd88
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:27 am

I took an Aviation Safety class in college. I recall there was a discussion one day about the effectiveness of life preservers. The instructor was of the opinion they are really only there for a feel good for the passengers. All they really do is make it easier to find the bodies. There have been very few times in the jet era where the life vests played a role in surviving a crash.
 
LH707330
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:05 am

Dalmd88 wrote:
I took an Aviation Safety class in college. I recall there was a discussion one day about the effectiveness of life preservers. The instructor was of the opinion they are really only there for a feel good for the passengers. All they really do is make it easier to find the bodies. There have been very few times in the jet era where the life vests played a role in surviving a crash.

They played a role in Ethiopan 961, specifically by helping people drown. Pax were told to inflate once out of the aircraft, but many jumped the gun, as as the cabin filled, couldn't swim in the right direction for the doors.
 
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TZTriStar500
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:33 pm

Dalmd88 wrote:
I took an Aviation Safety class in college. I recall there was a discussion one day about the effectiveness of life preservers. The instructor was of the opinion they are really only there for a feel good for the passengers. All they really do is make it easier to find the bodies. There have been very few times in the jet era where the life vests played a role in surviving a crash.


The notion that certain safety equipment is there just 'for show' is silly. Life vests and life rafts are made to similar standards as the marine industry and FAA TSO approved. They are certainly used more and save more people in boat and ship incidents so it's logical to assume they would have similar effects in aircraft accidents though ditching incidents are very rare. In addition, no safety equipment is there to guarantee to save your life in any and all situations, but to increase the chance of survival.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
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TZTriStar500
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:37 pm

barney captain wrote:
FlyBTV wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
That having been said, I believe rafts are only mandatory if you stay within a certain distance of land. I will have to look up the specific rules again though.


Greater than 50 miles from land triggers the life raft requirement for part 121 (airline) carriers. There is a nice chart summarizing the requirements on page 2 of this doc:

http://www.corpairparts.net/uploads/FAA ... _Rafts.pdf



That's interesting as our Ops Spes state -

Up to 50nm from shore - no equipment necessary.

From 50-162nm (north of 35 degrees and the west coast - 100nm) life vest only.

From 162nm up to 60 minutes from an alternate is where the life raft requirement kicks in.


This is not unusual for most FAA 121 carriers. There is an exemption that allows life vests only between 50-162 nm which was mostly to allow more direct routings over the Gulf of Mexico and similar. I recall it was unofficially called a 'wet' aircraft in contrast to extended overwater which is greater than 162nm.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
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TZTriStar500
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:42 pm

UnitedIsBae wrote:
I forgot the airline, but the were allowed not to carry lifevests and only seat cushions as their flotation device since they didn't fly over any major body of water.


Only flotation cushions are required if operated less than 50 mm from shoreline and many domestic only aircraft were so configured. However, life vests can be installed instead to keep a fleet standard.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:44 pm

TZTriStar500 wrote:
Dalmd88 wrote:
I took an Aviation Safety class in college. I recall there was a discussion one day about the effectiveness of life preservers. The instructor was of the opinion they are really only there for a feel good for the passengers. All they really do is make it easier to find the bodies. There have been very few times in the jet era where the life vests played a role in surviving a crash.


The notion that certain safety equipment is there just 'for show' is silly. Life vests and life rafts are made to similar standards as the marine industry and FAA TSO approved. They are certainly used more and save more people in boat and ship incidents so it's logical to assume they would have similar effects in aircraft accidents though ditching incidents are very rare. In addition, no safety equipment is there to guarantee to save your life in any and all situations, but to increase the chance of survival.


Indeed. I think some of the misconception comes from the idea that "if a plane goes down in the middle of the Atlantic, there's no chance anyway". Certainly ditching in the middle of the Atlantic would be a very bad situation. However there are plenty of places to ditch that are not the middle of the Atlantic. For example the Hudson. ;) It is not always worst case scenario.

Similarly, there's the misconception that "if we crash we all die anyway", which simply isn't true. The chances of surviving an accident, even one with fatalities, are actually quite good. Evacuations happen every now and again and the safety briefing is not just for show.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:50 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
TZTriStar500 wrote:
Dalmd88 wrote:
I took an Aviation Safety class in college. I recall there was a discussion one day about the effectiveness of life preservers. The instructor was of the opinion they are really only there for a feel good for the passengers. All they really do is make it easier to find the bodies. There have been very few times in the jet era where the life vests played a role in surviving a crash.


The notion that certain safety equipment is there just 'for show' is silly. Life vests and life rafts are made to similar standards as the marine industry and FAA TSO approved. They are certainly used more and save more people in boat and ship incidents so it's logical to assume they would have similar effects in aircraft accidents though ditching incidents are very rare. In addition, no safety equipment is there to guarantee to save your life in any and all situations, but to increase the chance of survival.


Indeed. I think some of the misconception comes from the idea that "if a plane goes down in the middle of the Atlantic, there's no chance anyway". Certainly ditching in the middle of the Atlantic would be a very bad situation. However there are plenty of places to ditch that are not the middle of the Atlantic. For example the Hudson. ;) It is not always worst case scenario.

Similarly, there's the misconception that "if we crash we all die anyway", which simply isn't true. The chances of surviving an accident, even one with fatalities, are actually quite good. Evacuations happen every now and again and the safety briefing is not just for show.


Yes, but if we're talking about use of water safety stuff in Hudson and SFO bay - why bother with tiers of distance from shore and cushions/vests/rafts? Why not "one size fits all"?
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:52 pm

kalvado wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
TZTriStar500 wrote:

The notion that certain safety equipment is there just 'for show' is silly. Life vests and life rafts are made to similar standards as the marine industry and FAA TSO approved. They are certainly used more and save more people in boat and ship incidents so it's logical to assume they would have similar effects in aircraft accidents though ditching incidents are very rare. In addition, no safety equipment is there to guarantee to save your life in any and all situations, but to increase the chance of survival.


Indeed. I think some of the misconception comes from the idea that "if a plane goes down in the middle of the Atlantic, there's no chance anyway". Certainly ditching in the middle of the Atlantic would be a very bad situation. However there are plenty of places to ditch that are not the middle of the Atlantic. For example the Hudson. ;) It is not always worst case scenario.

Similarly, there's the misconception that "if we crash we all die anyway", which simply isn't true. The chances of surviving an accident, even one with fatalities, are actually quite good. Evacuations happen every now and again and the safety briefing is not just for show.


Yes, but if we're talking about use of water safety stuff in Hudson and SFO bay - why bother with tiers of distance from shore and cushions/vests/rafts? Why not "one size fits all"?


Probably all all about cost.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:15 am

Starlionblue wrote:
kalvado wrote:
Yes, but if we're talking about use of water safety stuff in Hudson and SFO bay - why bother with tiers of distance from shore and cushions/vests/rafts? Why not "one size fits all"?


Probably all all about cost.

So why discriminate by distance? If seat cushion is OK for Hudson and SFO bay - it should be good for transpacific flight. Or, if not, lets require B-1900 operating 20 min hop from DEN to carry a raft - there are a few lakes in the area!
I wouldn't be surprised if regulations are a carry-over from some old marine traffic days, derived from experience of Titanic. Not sure if paying 30 cents less for transatlantic flight without a raft would make me feel any better, though.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:25 am

If you ditch in San Francisco Bay, rescue is probably quite close both in terms of time and distance. You can conceivably hang on to a cushion for an hour in calm waters. If you ditch offshore, especially in cold water, you won't survive by hanging on to a cushion. Rescue might be hours or days away. You need protection from exposure and fatigue.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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TZTriStar500
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:53 am

kalvado wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
TZTriStar500 wrote:

The notion that certain safety equipment is there just 'for show' is silly. Life vests and life rafts are made to similar standards as the marine industry and FAA TSO approved. They are certainly used more and save more people in boat and ship incidents so it's logical to assume they would have similar effects in aircraft accidents though ditching incidents are very rare. In addition, no safety equipment is there to guarantee to save your life in any and all situations, but to increase the chance of survival.


Indeed. I think some of the misconception comes from the idea that "if a plane goes down in the middle of the Atlantic, there's no chance anyway". Certainly ditching in the middle of the Atlantic would be a very bad situation. However there are plenty of places to ditch that are not the middle of the Atlantic. For example the Hudson. ;) It is not always worst case scenario.

Similarly, there's the misconception that "if we crash we all die anyway", which simply isn't true. The chances of surviving an accident, even one with fatalities, are actually quite good. Evacuations happen every now and again and the safety briefing is not just for show.


Yes, but if we're talking about use of water safety stuff in Hudson and SFO bay - why bother with tiers of distance from shore and cushions/vests/rafts? Why not "one size fits all"?


Why should there be for clearly different conditions and situations? It most certainly is cost and necessity. An extended overwater aircraft with vests, rafts, ditching lines, and ELT is extra weight, more items to maintain, extra cabin crew training, etc. This adds up and is just silly to require for a Beech 1900 that flies domestically, to use your example. With that said, many airlines have gone away from flotation cushions to life vests regardless of where they operate.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:57 am

Starlionblue wrote:
If you ditch in San Francisco Bay, rescue is probably quite close both in terms of time and distance. You can conceivably hang on to a cushion for an hour in calm waters. If you ditch offshore, especially in cold water, you won't survive by hanging on to a cushion. Rescue might be hours or days away. You need protection from exposure and fatigue.

And coming back to my question I already asked: what are the plausible scenarios for controlled and survivable ditch? Dual engine failure (estimated under ETOPS as "extremely unlikely"), fuel starvation, volcanic ash on blades, what else? How realistic those scenarios are - and we know that many airplanes in such situations could reach a runway? Would it statistically make more sense to supply parachutes to all pax (and it was discussed many times that it would hurt more than help) - that would also contribute to "feel good" safety...
Of course it is good to have a raft to sit on in the middle of the ocean - but for that to be useful, a survivable crash in nice weather so that people can retreat to the raft without injury must occur...
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:28 am

The USN had a P-3 ditch in the Bering Sea years ago and most of the crew survived. Yes, they are required and a good idea, what's the haste in getting rid of them? It's not "feel good" safety.

GF
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:49 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
The USN had a P-3 ditch in the Bering Sea years ago and most of the crew survived. Yes, they are required and a good idea, what's the haste in getting rid of them? It's not "feel good" safety.

GF

Excellent example!
10 out of 15 trained able bodied man survived - after " the crew managed to launch two of the three rafts on board, but all the other emergency equipment sank with the aircraft" - and flight originated from aleutian base, meaning they were at least dressed up for the weather.
How that compares to pax demographics of average SFO-PVG flight (B789 flying in the same general area right now)?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:31 am

So, you're answer would be to condemn them to die in the open ocean with no tools for survival? Rafts and vests aren't going away. I agree that am open ocean ditching is a dangerous evolution, but to ignore the history of many ditching by tossing out the survival equipment is cruel. Read up on the Boeing 367 ditchings

GF
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:44 am

kalvado wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
If you ditch in San Francisco Bay, rescue is probably quite close both in terms of time and distance. You can conceivably hang on to a cushion for an hour in calm waters. If you ditch offshore, especially in cold water, you won't survive by hanging on to a cushion. Rescue might be hours or days away. You need protection from exposure and fatigue.

And coming back to my question I already asked: what are the plausible scenarios for controlled and survivable ditch? Dual engine failure (estimated under ETOPS as "extremely unlikely"), fuel starvation, volcanic ash on blades, what else? How realistic those scenarios are - and we know that many airplanes in such situations could reach a runway? Would it statistically make more sense to supply parachutes to all pax (and it was discussed many times that it would hurt more than help) - that would also contribute to "feel good" safety...
Of course it is good to have a raft to sit on in the middle of the ocean - but for that to be useful, a survivable crash in nice weather so that people can retreat to the raft without injury must occur...


Oceans and seas aren't always stormy, and there are many land masses providing partly sheltered waters littered about, not to mention enclosed bodies of water like lakes, rivers and tidal estuaries. You might not always be always to make a successful ditching, but oftentimes it is a reasonable scenario, as evidenced by ALM 980, US Airways 1459 and JAL 2.

The chances of having to ditch are minuscule, the extra mass is not that big. Life vests are a few hundred grams per passenger. Most life rafts are also escape slides, so you're carrying that weight anyway. Then there's the various survival items but still a relatively small mass.

Parachutes are, as you already know, a complete waste of weight on an airliner for various reasons.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:19 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
kalvado wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
If you ditch in San Francisco Bay, rescue is probably quite close both in terms of time and distance. You can conceivably hang on to a cushion for an hour in calm waters. If you ditch offshore, especially in cold water, you won't survive by hanging on to a cushion. Rescue might be hours or days away. You need protection from exposure and fatigue.

And coming back to my question I already asked: what are the plausible scenarios for controlled and survivable ditch? Dual engine failure (estimated under ETOPS as "extremely unlikely"), fuel starvation, volcanic ash on blades, what else? How realistic those scenarios are - and we know that many airplanes in such situations could reach a runway? Would it statistically make more sense to supply parachutes to all pax (and it was discussed many times that it would hurt more than help) - that would also contribute to "feel good" safety...
Of course it is good to have a raft to sit on in the middle of the ocean - but for that to be useful, a survivable crash in nice weather so that people can retreat to the raft without injury must occur...


Oceans and seas aren't always stormy, and there are many land masses providing partly sheltered waters littered about, not to mention enclosed bodies of water like lakes, rivers and tidal estuaries. You might not always be always to make a successful ditching, but oftentimes it is a reasonable scenario, as evidenced by ALM 980, US Airways 1459 and JAL 2.

The chances of having to ditch are minuscule, the extra mass is not that big. Life vests are a few hundred grams per passenger. Most life rafts are also escape slides, so you're carrying that weight anyway. Then there's the various survival items but still a relatively small mass.

Parachutes are, as you already know, a complete waste of weight on an airliner for various reasons.

Once you mentioned inner bodies of water, we're back to the question of discriminating regarding the distance from the shore.
Low weight of lifevest is a good argument.

But what I really want to see is some risk assessment justifying existing layout. 160 miles from the shore easily translates into 8-10 hours until help arrives, overnight in the water. What are the chances, what are the odds? After all, there are reasonable estimates for risks related to ETOPS, strict layout of what has to be there in terms of diversion points and related planning. Is there a similar documents on water safety equipment? I can see some reasoning along the lines that if plane is still under control, gliding towards the shore increases the odds; but then 150 miles still looks on a high side of even 1:20 glide...
 
kalvado
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:20 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
So, you're answer would be to condemn them to die in the open ocean with no tools for survival? Rafts and vests aren't going away. I agree that am open ocean ditching is a dangerous evolution, but to ignore the history of many ditching by tossing out the survival equipment is cruel. Read up on the Boeing 367 ditchings

GF

Do you think that useless hope and prolonged suffering is a better option?
 
VSMUT
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Re: Are life rafts and vests really needed on commercial aircraft?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:32 pm

kalvado wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
So, you're answer would be to condemn them to die in the open ocean with no tools for survival? Rafts and vests aren't going away. I agree that am open ocean ditching is a dangerous evolution, but to ignore the history of many ditching by tossing out the survival equipment is cruel. Read up on the Boeing 367 ditchings

GF

Do you think that useless hope and prolonged suffering is a better option?


Who says that it will be useless?

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