Why are seat belts needed for passengers in aircraft? How does it work?

A seat belt is a vehicle safety device meant to protect the driver or a passenger from a dangerous movement following a collision or an abrupt halt. A seat belt diminishes the probability of death or severe injury in a traffic collision by overcoming the force of subsequent impacts by the interior strike and holding occupants in a suitable position for maximum effectiveness of the airbag (if equipped). A safety belt also minimizes the probability of an occupant being evacuated from the vehicle in the event of a collision or if the vehicle enters a state of controlled or uncontrolled movements.

When moving, both people and vehicles go at the same pace. If the aircraft abruptly rolls, falls, or collides with the ground, the passenger continues at the rate the vehicle was traveling before it came to a halt. A seatbelt applies an opposing force to the pilot and passenger to prevent them from falling out or making contact with the wall, seats, or windshield.

A seatbelt’s main functions are to cause the occupant to decelerate at the same rate as the vehicle in a crash, to scatter the point of impact over the stronger parts of the occupant’s body, to prevent the occupant from colliding with the interior of the vehicle, to reduce the risk of being thrown from the vehicle, and. Seatbelts in current automobiles are intended to function in conjunction with airbags to ensure that they strike safely with the impact of the accident.

Aircraft Safety Belts

Flight Attendant Seat Belts

The four-point harness is designed for crew seats so flight attendants can immediately leave their seats. This helps them accomplish their primary job of helping passengers evacuate the aircraft in an emergency. When the buckle is rotated, all straps are released. Several seat belt manufacturers have, so buckle design can vary at different airlines and on different aircraft.

Pilot Seat Belts

The five-point harness allows pilots to control the aircraft even in the most severe scenarios. A fifth strap called a crotch, or submarine strap that reaches up between the legs, is used by pilots. The submarine strap prevents the pilot’s body from slipping forward, beneath the lap, and hitting the instrument panel in a high-speed collision.

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According to a pilot, most pilots unfasten their shoulder straps after takeoff and buckle them during landing or when moderate turbulence is forecast. During takeoff and landing, the crotch and shoulder straps must be worn. Pilots must wear their seat belts at all times while in the cockpit. 

The Standard Economy-Class Airplane Seatbelt

A standard economy class aeroplane seat belt is a two-piece lap belt that is fastened with an industrial-looking flip-flop buckle that fits directly in the center of the lap. Seat belts in motorsport are not like this. Seat belts became standard in aviation during the 1930s and 1940s, while the airline business opposed them even in 1947. Following multiple aviation disasters, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 initiated the movement toward stricter safety rules, which were legislated in 1972 and have been periodically modified ever since. This is unlike any other current seat belt.

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The particular buckle in the discussion here, widely used in economy class was already old-fashioned by 1972. By the early 1970s, push-button buckles had mostly substituted it. A shoulder harness in a car is tied to the car’s structure, but it would have to be fastened to a bulkhead, which is less stable in an airplane. It must also be supported by the seat, which adds extra weight and affects aircraft performance and fuel consumption.

Lift-lever lap belts remained unchanged for decades, apart from a shift in the material of the strap itself to be less elastic. That makes them attractively cheap for particularly budget-conscious airlines. These belts are FAA certified to meet minimum safety requirements in a crash; also, they are light and cheap.

Aircraft safety belts are designed to keep passengers in their seats during minor and catastrophic events, like turbulence or impacts on the ground. The fundamental goal of an aircraft seatbelt is not to save a life if the plane crashes. In those situations, passengers should not be buckled for an emergency evacuation, and it is impossible to absorb the impact of an extremely fast-moving vehicle.

A shoulder belt is designed to stop a passenger’s entire upper body from hopping due to sudden acceleration or deceleration. Road accidents involve forward, backward, or sideways motion, which means that cars generally stay on the ground. Passengers on an airplane are more likely to require protection against up and down movement, such as turbulence.

Importance of Seatbelts

The FAA specifies safety requirements by smashing a crash test dummy with an accelerometer installed in its head onto a seat. The type of safety harness required is determined by the rate at which the dummy’s head rises. The greater the speed, the greater the need for protection; higher speeds are riskier. As there is greater space and risk in first class, the few airlines have implemented three-point seatbelts in first or business class.

For the pilot and crew, the needs are even more intense. A pilot has to have a five-point harness, similar to a race car’s cockpit. Same with small aeroplanes, shoulder harnesses have been required for all passengers in small aircraft since 1986.

On a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas, a female passenger was thrown headfirst through a glass. One jet turbine’s blades had broken off after being blasted out by debris from an exploding engine and shattered glass. The jet was a Boeing 737-800, and even though she was not in a safe position, she was rescued since she was wearing a seatbelt at the time. If a seatbelt did not restrain her, she might disappear from a flying aeroplane.

The US Federal Aviation Administration defines turbulence as “air movement caused by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, the air surrounding mountains, cold or warm weather fronts, or thunderstorms.” Aircraft do not constantly experience turbulent waves in the air, although they do on occasion. Passengers within an aeroplane do not fall at the same pace as the rest of the aircraft; instead, they effectively remain in the same spot while the cabin ceiling falls towards them. Here, safety belts keep passengers in sync with the aircraft’s speed and limit the effect of vibrations and abrupt falls.

Passenger seats and seat belts are intended to handle the loads likely to occur in a survivable collision. Before 2009, every aircraft must have seats and belts that could sustain a 9g static load. The update would be costly, ultimately raising ticket costs for a statistically insignificant boost in safety.

Aircraft Seat Belt Regulations

Both EASA and the FAA provide regulations to manufacturers and airlines. Manufacturers are required to adhere to design, material, and function restrictions. Airlines are required to obey operational safety laws. Relevant rules are covered in EU Commission Regulation (EC) No 859/2008 and US Regulation 14 CFR 91.107. Although there may be minor variations in the specifications in different parts of the world, the most general laws are that the operator must ensure that each person on board is fitted with a seat belt or a safety harness. The cabin crew learns about the seatbelt specifications in the aviation courses. Before takeoff, passengers must be shown how to utilize seat belts and informed about their importance. After takeoff, a reminder is given on the need to wear seat belts when sitting, regardless of whether the seat belt sign is illuminated before or after landing. During taxi, takeoff, and landing, or whenever considered appropriate in the interest of safety; the captain must confirm that each passenger occupies a seat and is securely strapped with a seatbelt or strap. Some nations’ legislation only permits dual occupancy. It refers only to specific seats, and it only applies to having one adult and one infant have the same seat when securely fastened. Cabin crew members must wear safety belts and harnesses during takeoff and landing, anytime the commander considers it essential in the interest of safety, and whenever they are at their station.

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