It was bound to happen. The technology for airbags in automobiles has matured since airbags were legislated to be in U.S. manufactured cars in 1988. Today cars not only have airbags in steering columns, on the passenger side of the car, but also side airbags to keep our drivers and passengers safe.
The goal of airbags is to slow a car’s passenger’s forward motion as evenly as possible in a fraction of a second. This is accomplished using a 3 part system consisting of the airbag itself, a sensor unit that tells the bag to inflate and the inflation system itself.
To date statistics show that airbags reduce the risk of dying in a direct frontal crash by approximately 30%.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as of 1-1-09 more than 28,000 people are alive because of frontal airbags. Of these some 60% were not even wearing seatbelts!
So what about airbags for general aviation airplanes?
Bill Hagan, the President of AmSafe, is an engineer with experience in the automotive airbag system technology and has brought that expertise to AmSafe, a privately held company in Arizona which has been involved with aviation seatbelts systems for almost 50 years.
The AmSafe Airbag Seatbelt system is unique in that the airbag is attached to the pilot’s seatbelt restraint system, and deploys outwards, away from the pilot or passenger and not from the aircraft itself. This has several advantages including the fact that it works regardless of the configuration of the aircraft instrument panel and aircraft control system.
Even better yet, you can learn from an actual survivor from an aircraft accident in Switzerland just how well this system really works:
On Friday of this week I will provide some additional information regarding this wonderful new system which will include a podcast episode of “Hangar Talk” with Bill Hagan, President of AmSafe. Be sure and return on Friday for more about this new technology.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
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