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Old 17th Aug 2014, 18:33
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: South of the M4
Posts: 1,526
There's an interesting article where the advantages of rearward facing seats were put forward. The article entitled “On Going Forward Backwards” appeared in Flight Magazine for 16th July 1954 here:

1954 | 2070 | Flight Archive

This inter-alia states:

…………..The advantages claimed for the aft-facing seat can be summed up very simply. A large majority of casualties in aircraft accidents result from the deceleration produced by impact with the ground, varying from, say, 1g in a smooth belly-landing and 20-40g in more severe crashes leaving the fuselage wholly or partly intact. Properly supported, the human frame can withstand the highest deceleration likely to be encountered in any crash which is basically “survivable” — one in which complete crushing, burning or disintegration of the fuselage does not occur. Protagonists of the backward-facing seat maintain that this is the best method of providing such protection because (a) it places a shield between the body and the most likely sources of injury and (b) because the back of the human body is stronger than the front. Expressed in its simplest terms, the argument for the aft-facing seat is that in any given set of circumstances it is safer than the forward-facing seat.

Evidence to support this theory is convincing but by no means conclusive from a technical viewpoint. Indeed, as no two accidents can be identical in their nature, it is difficult to see how conclusive proof could ever be obtained. Essential details of the major accidents to aircraft equipped with backward-facing seats are as follows:
On December 20th, 1950, an R.A.F. Hastings crashed at Benina after an airscrew blade had torn into the fuselage, severely injuring one of the crew and jamming the elevator and rudder controls. While attempting to land on two engines it undershot and crashed heavily. All five members of the crew were killed (a point which indicates the severity of the impact without necessarily affecting the seating controversy), but the 26 passengers, who, with one exception, were in 15g rearward-facing seats, escaped without serious injury.
On February 18th, 1951, an R.A.F. Valetta crashed into a wooded hill near Stockholm during a single-engined overshoot in bad visibility. One of the crew of three was killed and all 18 passengers, in 20g rearward-facing seats, escaped with minor injuries.
Another Valetta crashed near Boscombe Down on November 25th, 1952, after being in collision with a Venom. The nine passengers (paratroops) stepped out of their rearward facing seats unhurt, and the crew of four all received injuries.
In a third Valetta accident, at Lyneham, on January 20th this year, one of the crew of five was killed and four injured; the six passengers, all in aft-facing seats, received only very slight injuries.
Both theory and practice, then, show that there is a strong case for fitting rearward-facing seats in transport aircraft.
...and here in this view looking forward is how the backward-facing seats looked like in the RAF's Britannias

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