Why Commercial Airplanes Don’t Have Parachutes: Fighter jets and military aircraft have multiple parachutes on-board that can be used by passengers in the case of extreme emergencies cases where jumping out of the plane is basically the only way to survive.
See Why Commercial Airplanes Dont Have Parachutes Onboard For Passengers(Pics)
Given the fact that commercial jets ferry significantly more passengers on a daily basis all over the world, wouldn’t it make sense to have parachutes for all the passengers onboard these planes too?
There are a few reasons, including the lack of parachute training of passengers, non-conducive design of commercial planes and the cost spike, which make putting parachutes onboard commercial airplanes unviable.
Airline passengers have no parachute training.
What you have on every commercial plane are people who have never used or seen a parachute in their lives.
Without a minimum of training, most people would not even be able to strap the parachute on correctly, never mind open it and land safely.
Even on the ground and with plenty of time this is not easy.
In the confined space of an airliner and in a high-stress situation/commotion, it would be even more difficult.
Skydives are pre-planned.
An important thing to remember about skydiving is that it occurs under perfectly normal conditions.
Since the jumps are pre-planned, the skydiver knows well in advance that they are going to jump out of a moving airplane.
In contrast, passengers onboard airplanes would never know in advance that they might have to take the leap in the next few minutes.
Skydives are extensively planned and prepared for in advance.
In essence, what you have on a commercial plane are people who have never used or seen a parachute in their lives, but have to strap on the gear effectively in only a minute or two and prepare to jump.
They also have to do all this while wearing their emergency oxygen masks (we haven’t even factored in the environment of confusion and commotion that would rock the cabin in such an emergency situation where 200 passengers needs to jump in less than 2minutes).
Let’s us imagine a situation where the plane is nose diving.
Commercial aircraft fly very high.
Planned skydives, including the riskiest ones, occur no more than 15,000 – 16,000 feet above the ground.
Plus, the planes these skydivers jump from are usually small and aren’t moving that fast.
On the contrary, most commercial airplanes cruise at around 35,000 feet an altitude where you won’t find any breathable air, and they also fly much faster.
In order for passengers parachuting out of a downed airplane to not pass out due to hypoxia, they would need oxygen cylinders, provided that they ‘clear’ the plane safely, which, by the way, is another important concern.
Commercial airplanes are not designed to be conducive for people jumping out of it.
Planes that host regular, individual skydives are typically small, so skydivers clear it pretty much immediately after the jump.
Large military aircraft, on the other hand, have a nice ramp at the back where parachutists can jump and steer clear of the fuselage.
Military aircraft have a ramp at the back to facilitate skydives.
Commercial aircraft, however, have neither a small body nor a ramp.
Jumping out of a conventional airplane would include the serious risk of smashing into the fuselage of the aircraft (its wings, engine or tail), and sustain grievous, if not fatal injuries.
Most accidents occur during landing and takeoff.
Now, this is a purely statistical reason.
The most practical time for parachuting out of an airplane is when it’s cruising/stable.
However, it’s generally observed that most fatal plane crashes occur either during landings or takeoffs times when parachutes would be pretty useless as there will be no time.
Parachuting kits are bulky and expensive
A parachute is too bulky to fit under a typical economy class seat.
Plus, its heavy.
Naturally, it would take up sizable space on the plane, which is already quite costly.
Also, adding parachutes for every soul on a commercial airplane would easily add around 6,000 – 8,000 pounds to its overall weight, a situation that airlines desperately try to avoid.
To top it all off, parachuting gear (helmet, altimeter, goggles etc.) is quite expensive, which means that airfare would increase significantly if parachutes were made mandatory on all commercial flights.
All in all, putting parachutes on commercial airplanes isn’t viable, both practically and economically.
Even if they did start putting parachutes onboard, the chances that they would save every soul during a real emergency are virtually non-existent.