Report on Air Bags Due Out Next Week

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a study next week on 138 accidents involving GA aircraft equipped with air bags integrated into shoulder harnesses. Some 7,000 aircraft are so equipped out of the entire GA fleet of more than 200,000 aircraft. AmSafe, the sole manufacturer of aircraft air-bag shoulder harnesses, claims it has documented 20 cases in which air bags saved lives and/or significantly reduced injuries in aircraft accidents. Air bags have been required in new cars for close to two decades. Shoulder harness requirements go back even further. But aircraft built before shoulder harnesses were widely adopted are not required to have them installed. I wrote about my own experience installing shoulder harnesses in my 1954 Bonanza in this May 2007 'I Learned About Flying From That' in Flying. (see attached)

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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