I would say that relatively few accidents are survivable, and of those, not all would allow time for correct donning of lifejackets and evacuation. Even if that happens, it does not guarantee survival.
Thus we have to place a value on human life versus the cost of carrying, supplying, and maintaining the lifejackets. That's impossible, and for that reason I suspect that most airlines, and certainly those operating over or close to water, will continue with lifejackets, however pointless they might seem.
You are taking a part of my statement and using it out of context. Let's just say that (for example) 80% of accidents (that's a figure I've seen) are potentially survivable, we have to consider many other criteria which would determine whether lifejackets would help after a survivable accident, such as cabin layouts, structure, evacuation procedures, terrain and climate.
The posting was specifically about life jackets and their role, not about the potential survivability of accidents in general. Life jackets are only relevant if the crash/landing occurs on water.
I am an ex aircraft technician. This will explain my habbits. I still check under the seat for my life jacket. Twice I have found it missing, shame on the person who stole it and it has held up the departure of the aircraft. Once with North West and the other time with United. The Cabin crew on both occasions did not believe me and checked and then a new one had to be bought in by one of the maintenance staff.
So if you were on any of those two flights, sorry.
Agreed PTR 175, I also check. Only once have I not found it - on a RYR. The CC was surprised and said that she would bring me one. I was not surprised when she didn't!
I decided to see what would happen and let the flight continue. Naturally, no jacket or further comment. I decided not to complain as that would entail letters on my part and nothing on anyone elses' - CAA etc.
So I don't travel RYR anymore but I check my seat every time on every carrier and, if I again find it missing, I will prevent the departure.
Do I think jackets are helpful? In a low energy ditching - Yes.
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
I also check for a life jacket but really think they are a waste of space, especially for an open ocean ditching. Aircraft used to carry large dingies that could accommodate 30+ people. Four or five would suffice for most aircraft. Initially these were open with buoyancy chambers. Then a self-inflating canopy was added which would give you a secure and warmer environment and a real chance of survival. Ships still use these.
Now, with over 300 passengers you would been 10 or more dinghies. Most passenger aircraft now use the door escape chutes as life rafts. The approved way of using these is to hang on in the water until you die.
Modern aircraft have ditched and everyone on board has survived. Usually they had survival suits and proper dinghies.
US reg is up to 50nm from shore, only "floatation" is required. More than 50nm you must have vests and rafts. There's a waypoint, LAIRE, placed so that if you're going KSEA-PANC you can go direct LAIRE direct ANC or direct LAIRE direct YVR and stay within 50nm of the shore on a 3 hour leg with one waypoint. I can certainly glide 50 miles from altitude.
Thus we have to place a value on human life versus the cost of carrying, supplying, and maintaining the lifejackets. That's impossible,
The FAA does this all the time. I can't recall what they price a human life at but I remember a number around 2.5 million. The reason the revised US flight and duty time regulations don't cover cargo operations is the FAA it was cheaper to have one cargo aircraft crash every ten years than to require the additional crew members.
So there seems to be some degree of consensus that life jackets will remain, and that they may have proved to be of value on rare occasions in the past.
Another item apparently carried on every flight that seems to have limited use is the crash axe. Has one ever been deployed other than to demonstrate to security that it is pointless to confiscate sharp-edged instruments from flight crew?
And if the axe is justified, is the flight deck the best place to keep it for any reason other than keeping out of the hands of the SLF?
I wonder how far you can take such an argument. Oxygen masks? Decompression is pretty rare and seems to be accompanied by a fairly controlled rapid descent to where the lower pressure isn't a problem.
First aid kit? If it's fairly comprehensive, it needs changing every so often.
Fire extinguishers? How often is there a fire which the extinguisher in the cabin puts out?
I wonder what else the bean counters could come up with to save a penny...
All good points, everything has a price ... just watch what happens in the coming years. The agressive approach to managing costs, delivering shareholder value etc.. etc.. will drive these questions to be asked.
A lot of things mentioned are not discretionary. ICAO/FAA requires them to be on the aircraft. Bean counters cannot simply remove them.
While some may hark to a different era, they will likely remain required forever. Even in Regulation hating states there is no way anyone is going to put their xxx on the line and suggest removing a 'safety' item. No way, not ever.
We were discussing this last week, several of the crew on my flight (flying 5 years or more) had all successfully used fire extinguishers to put out fires onboard. Anyone who wants to remove those from the aircraft is nuts!
I reckon the worst thing you can deal with onboard is a fire, once it gets ahold you are pretty much screwed. I remember reading a line somewhere (think it was Boeing) that said from ignition to landing, if anything over 12minutes and the fire is uncontrollable, you might as well call it a day and write your goodbye notes..
Wrt rafts, some of you are getting confused between 'flotation only slides' and 'Slede/raft'. The former are not intended to be used in ditching but MAY be used as a last resort, in the manner described, for pax in the water to hold onto. The latter are designed to keep you dry and out of the water and are equipped with survival gear. Sliderafts must be able to carry the entire capacity of the aircraft plus overload. (A common capacity on large aircraft is 60, and 80 at overload, in case one of your other slides is damaeg etc)
The round dingies are probably mroe seaworthy, but IMHO having done a ditching drill and deploying them out the o/w exits on a B737, you'd be on the bottom before you got them all away. For the purposes of getting a few hundred panicking passengers out of an aircraft, the slideraft is probably going to work better. The dingies are only as good as the crowd control used when setting them up for loading.
Of course the chances of surviving anything open water are low- but I can think of several cases where aircraft overran into water and the sliderafts were used.
The Hudson river case, someone asked about, the rear slides did not deploy because the procedure says you don't use them in ditching since the door sills are underwater. Ditto for the overwings, they are slides only not rafts IIRC...
Last edited by givemewings; 25th Aug 2012 at 18:08.
OK so I am the original poster .... and I am NOT a company bean counter ... far from it ... but the question is ... as a proportion of passenger miles travelled how many lives have been saved by the successful use of personal life jackets ...
It used to be mandatory that marine radios underwent a formal 'Type Approval', usually overseen by the Administration of each country where it is be sold. In Europe, a manufacturer can now self certify, and the self certification is good for any EU country. So you could see pressures on the international bodies at some time in the future....