Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Do Airline Safety Rules Make Sense? Yes, But Not in the Way You Were Taught to Think

You know that head-down fetal position that you're supposed to take in the event of a crash landing; has it ever occurred to you that it doesn't make much sense?

Think about it: your face will — seemingly — be protected (which is far from a bad thing), but the top of your head, and thus your brain, which is (arguably?) far more important: aren't they more likely to strike the seat in front of you, and aren't you thus more likely to suffer?

And those yellow life-jackets… You may not know this, but it seems that you are supposed to put them on in the event of any crash, even if you are not flying above the ocean.

Why on Earth (so to speak) might that be?

Helpfully, a reader of the Economist provides a logical explanation
(how reassuring you will find it I leave entirely up to you).
SIR – The bright-yellow lifejackets are not intended to act as flotation devices. They are there to make it easier for the recovery services to spot the bodies strewn across rough terrain. (I was once asked to put on a life-jacket over central Germany, some 300 miles from the sea.)
And the advice to adopt a head-down fetal position in the event of a crash landing does nothing to preserve life, given that the stall speed of a modern airliner means it will connect with the ground at terminal velocity. However, the position does tend to preserve dental data, useful for identifying dilapidated corpses.
Peel, Isle of Man
Paul Gillions of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, adds that
The most honest briefing I have ever had was on a helicopter flying me to an oil rig in the North Sea:
“Take off your watch because it stops your survival suit making a good seal around your wrist. If we go down and the water gets inside the suit, it's so cold you'll last about five minutes.”
Do airline companies assume that
terrorists can only afford a seat in economy class?

• Airplane Etiquette:
Undue Deference Is Not Applicable When Exiting an Aircraft