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New airbag technology frees up jet space

March 4, 2011, 09:43 pm

A new aviation airbag design may make seats that were previously not allowed to count toward jet capacity available for passengers to occupy during flight, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Some jets were previously not allowed to include side-facing divan seats near pillars or bulkheads where hard objects could severely injure a passenger's skull in the event of a crash and put them in greater danger than other occupants on the plane.

However, AmSafe Industries and B/E Aerospace have designed a new airbag made specifically for side-facing seats that may mitigate any extra risk of injury. The airbag, instead of deploying forward like traditional ones, deploys sideways out of the passenger's shoulder harness. The inflated bag can support and protect the passenger's head.

"The Seatbelt Airbag is the most practical and cost-effective solution to reduce neck loading and provide head and body-to-body contact protection for side-facing divan occupants. It allows for more flexibility in cabin layouts and demonstrates our proactive commitment to address side-facing occupant protection," said Chuck Barresi from B/E Aerospace.

Despite these safety advancements, certain aircraft accidents may be so severe, airbags are not effective in preventing death. Life insurance for pilots may aid them in providing for their families, should they be fatally injured in a plane crash.  

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