Re: Plane crashes and other accidents

GBurch1 (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 08:38:14 EDT

In a message dated 98-04-15 18:34:50 EDT, Hal Finney wrote:

> I can't see a situation where it would be safe and practical for the
> passengers in a commercial jet to put on parachutes and jump out.
> It would take a long time to get everyone strapped in and out of the
> airplane. Few emergencies reveal themselves far enough in advance that
> this could be done.
> Jumping out of a jet is not going to be very safe. Jets tend to fly
> a lot faster than planes normally do when dropping parachuters. There
> may not be a good place to jump out from, and you could be blown into
> the wings or engines. Parachuting itself requires some skill, so that
> you don't release the chute while tumbling and become entangled in it.
> Then, as was mentioned, there is the issue of landing and being rescued.
> All in all it seems very unlikely that this would be a practical method
> to save lives.

I spend a LOT of time on airplanes and have thought about this quite a bit and
have to agree with Hal -- individual parachutes seems a completely unworkable
solution. Almost every idea I've ever considered to make large commercial
airliners more safe has always ended up making the plane too heavy to fly, or
at least fly profitably.

Two ideas contiue to intrigue me, though. One is a detachable passenger
compartment that has SOME sort of deployable aero-drag device or combination
of devices. The other is an internal fire-retardant foaming system that
activates in anomolous situations (read crashes). Even if done with the
lightest, cleverest materials and designs, both would add significantly to the
weight and therefore operating cost of the planes and both would also have
safety COSTS, since accidental deployment of either system would tend to ruin
your whole day . . .

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
-- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover