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FAASTeam Notice
Type: General Information
Notice Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Notice Number: NOTC7787
A shoulder harness is your ticket to a long career in flying.
This notice expired on
Saturday, June 23, 2018

Double Click for Safety


                            A shoulder harness is your ticket to a long career in flying.

Years ago, it was commonly held that you were actually safer if you were ejected from the vehicle during a collision! Now it feels uncomfortable to move a car even a short distance without being strapped in. So it is a bit of a surprise to find that many of the same pilots who drive their vehicles to the airport while buckled and secured do not attach their shoulder harnesses when they go flying. We know that to be true because aircraft accident investigations often reveal the sad reality—survivable accidents aren’t survived, and the ever-present crew shoulder harnesses that are required to be installed on all aircraft manufactured after the dates specified below have been neatly tucked away or secured behind the now-deceased pilot’s seat.

§91.107   Use of safety belts, shoulder harnesses, and child restraint systems.

The FAA has estimated that roughly one third of all general aviation accidents with fatalities would have been survivable if the pilots had been using their shoulder harnesses.

For cars and aircraft, it is the secondary collision that kills. The dynamics of the deceleration sequence in a sudden-stop accident are straightforward and have been well understood for a long time. The vehicle (either car or aircraft) undergoes a sudden and complete deceleration during contact with an immovable surface (ground or water).

The driver or pilot is still moving forward at the original velocity and now pivots from the waist, where he or she is secured only by the lap belt.

 No one is physically strong enough to prop themselves up against the high g-force deceleration that may occur during an accident sequence, so heads and arms strike the dashboard or instrument panel violently.

These days drivers and their passengers may be saved by airbag deployment, but that is not the case in most aircraft. Pilots are often rendered unconscious or unable to extract themselves from the wreckage due to serious injuries or shock. Hypothermia, drowning or fire is often the second and final complication for the incapacitated crew and their trapped and panicked passengers.

Pilots of some airplanes have pointed out that the layout of the instrument panel and controls make it impossible to reach those controls when the shoulder harness is attached.

It is strongly suggested that you include a line “shoulder harness–fastened” on your pre-flight and pre-landing checklist and keep it attached whenever the aircraft is in motion, particularly during takeoff and landing. If you have to unfasten your shoulder harness when it interferes with cockpit duties, get into the habit of reattaching it as soon as you can. The risk remains that not attaching or removing your shoulder harness for whatever reason and continuing to fly without it will multiply the severity of any crash, perhaps, and most sadly, beyond the point of survival.

Click on the link below if the aircraft you fly is manufactured prior to December 12, 1986.

Henrik Vejlstrup, FPM, Purple Team.

412-886-2580 x 206