Why Commercial Planes Don’t Have Passenger Parachutes

by SharonKurheg

We’ve gone over several “mysteries” of planes and airlines over the years:

We’ve even dived into a few industry secrets:

One thing I see pop up here and there is:

Why don’t commercial airlines offer parachutes for passengers?

Passenger safety is, of course, the #1 concern of everyone working on a plane. They want to get you (and themselves!) from Point A to Point B in one piece.

They already have so many things on board to ensure safety:

  • Oxygen masks
  • Ashtrays (even though smoking hasn’t been allowed onboard for over 2 decades)
  • Life vests for each passenger

So why not parachutes? I mean, they’d be one of THE safest things, right? Turns out there are several reasons to not have parachutes available to passengers on commercial planes:

You’d never get the emergency door open

Planes are purposely made such that their emergency doors are virtually impossible to open while you’re in the air. Here’s why. So even if there was an emergency at 35,000 feet, you’d never be able to exit the plane at that height.

Outside conditions above 10,000 feet

If you were to jump out of your plane due to an emergency, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen outside to survive, depending on the height. Even at an altitude of 10,000 feet, there’s 33% less oxygen and you’d be at risk for altitude sickness (headaches, dizziness, and the possibility of brain and lung damage).

The temperature at 10,000 feet would also be an average of 23.3° F. At 35,000 feet it’d be about -56.2 °F…you’d freeze.

The parachutes’ weight

In the hopes of using less fuel, decreasing weight on planes is a huge thing for airlines nowadays. That’s why they do all sorts of crazy things (like these) to decrease weight on their planes, and some airlines are even removing reclining seats in favor of lighter seats that don’t recline.

Weights vary depending on type, but figure you’re looking at roughly 30 pounds per parachute. 30 pounds per passenger, with 100, 200, or even 300+ passengers on board means you’ve just added a ton or more extra weight to each plane.

Chris Q. Public doesn’t know how to use a parachute

Parachutes aren’t easy. Among other things, you have to know how to put the parachute on correctly (or run the risk of it falling off), how to maneuver it (so when you get closer to land, you avoid trees, electrical wires, traffic, etc.), and how to land safely.

People using parachutes by themselves (read: without a trained individual jumping tandem with them) are given 6-8 hours of training on the ground before they’re ever allowed to jump out of a plane. It takes much more knowledge than just putting it on, jumping out of a flying vehicle and pulling on a cord.

Feature Image: Pixabay

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