As echoes of the tragedy that was the Ethiopian Airline crash continue to linger, it’s normal for global attention to rivet on flight safety and the ways to make sure the world never again wakes up to images of a plane plunging out of the sky.
In retrospect, it seems conceivable that some of the 157 souls who passed that day would have had a better chance of survival if they had certain aids to assure their safety: like parachutes for instance.
How parachutes can help in case of an aircraft accident
Parachutes are devices that enable a safe landing of humans or objects from high altitude. Traditionally and usually, parachutes are found in and on military jets and aircraft. Soldiers use parachutes to deploy to battle positions or drop supplies for allies on the ground.
Parachutes make coming down from a height safer
Flying is still statistically speaking the safest way to travel, but fliers are pausing to consider safety as more and more air mishaps are recorded. Last year 2018, a total number of 500 died in air mishaps including the uncelebrated case of the 2016 World cup Brazilian football team "Chapecoense" which crashed. Given the present situations, would it not make sense to increase the chances of passengers involved in an air disaster surviving, by providing a parachute for every individual aboard?
Why commercial airlines don't give parachutes to their passengers
Here are the most basic reasons why such a novel idea might not actually take off:
1. Lack of training
Jumping out an airplane doesn’t only take a lot of guts, it also requires hours of training. Not all soldiers are “airborne” or parachute deployment ready. Armed forces personnel who do this undergo a most rigorous training exercise after which they are given their “wings”. Passengers would fare poorly if they had to put on and deploy a parachute after the usual 5-minute instruction talk by a pretty air hostess.
You need training to use a chute well
2. Parachutes are expensive:
Like all military gear, those silk chutes come with a high price tag. It would significantly cost airlines more to place one parachute at the disposal of each flyer on the manifest. Ultimately, it could hike already high air fares. Now that, passengers wouldn’t find so elevating!
3. The excessive weight
The issue of weight is the perennial problems airlines all over the world face. This is why excess luggage charges are so exorbitant. Parachutes are quite bulky and heavy too, and matching one to everyone on board would shoot the aircraft dangerously close to its danger levels. Of course passengers could be spoken to to lose some luggage, but the chances of that succeeding are not really so good.
Commercial flights, once got into accident, result in great loss
4. Children passengers
People frequently travel with kids in family groups. If parachuting became official aviation policy, a special chute would need to be designed for the little tots, one more suited to their size. Also, parachutes must be guided and manipulated even on the way down. Furthermore, the landing is most tricky. It’s doubtful if the average six year old would be able to do this on his or her own. Of course mums and dads can attach themselves as happens in some civilian parachuting tours, wherein a trainer is attached to an air tourist, still, the logistics are quite challenging.
Special plans would have to be made for kids
5. Sky dives are pre-planned
Even in combat situations, a para-drop is not quite “strap on and jump.” The LZ or landing zone has to be given considerable thought so that soldiers land safely on the right terrain. Commercial disasters are of course unpredictable, and no kind of planning at all can precede an eventuality like that. It is true that sometimes unforeseen parachute drops take place, like when a pilot is forced to eject from a distressed jet fighter, however pilots are trained to handle just so situations. Also it doesn’t always end well. Injuries are fairly common in unplanned jumps.
6. Aircraft design
Military craft that carry paratroopers are designed to make the process safer and easier The basic design of the average commercial airline is not at all conducive to a safe jump off.
Perhaps in the near future, a safe means for passengers to leave distressed planes will be invented. For now, all flyers have to rely on is a prayer and the belief that flying is really still the safest way to travel.
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