Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Airbags installed on private jets?

Were it not for the broken bones, the brief flight of the little Cessna two-seater would have been comical.

The student pilot lost control just as it lifted off from a small California airport in 2008. First the plane’s tail smacked back down on the runway, leaving a trail of fiberglass. Then it skittered off to the left, hit a runway sign and became airborne. But another sign loomed and was mowed down, too. The plane made it another 1,000 feet before landing nose-first, digging its right wing into the asphalt before flipping upside down.

Shaken and battered, the pilot was saved by a mushrooming airbag that deployed much like that of a car.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday urged companies building non-commercial planes to make airbags standard. It also recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration order that shoulder harnesses be retrofitted to bring older planes into compliance with requirements for new planes.

“Although airbags have been mandated in automobiles for over a decade, the aviation industry has no such requirement for small aircraft,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the NTSB chairman.

Source: Washington Post