In the world of aviation, safety is the number one priority for aerospace engineers and aspiring pilots. While air travel is generally safe, all aircraft are equipped with evacuation and safety components in the case of an accident. Some of these components include systems, equipment, and gadgets that ensure the safety of all crew members and passengers on board.
As air at higher altitudes is colder and less dense, it has fewer oxygen molecules, making it harder to breathe. For this reason, air filtration systems help convert the outside air into breathable air. If system failure occurs, emergency oxygen systems ensure that everyone still has access to oxygen.
Cabin Oxygen System
Every passenger seat, flight attendant seat, and lavatory is furnished with oxygen generators and masks. Generally, they are deployed from above these areas when the cabin altitude reaches 14,000 feet. If the system fails, the flight crew can access the override switch to open the oxygen doors for the cabin. In the case this does not work, flight attendants can manually open each oxygen door via a release hole in the door.
Flight Crew Oxygen System
Within the cockpit, there are masks for each member of the flight crew. These masks have additional features not found on cabin masks. For example, there is an inflatable harness to keep the mask secured to one’s head, a flow control knob to tweak the ambient air to pure oxygen ratio, and a built-in microphone for continued communication with the rest of the crew.
Portable Oxygen System
Portable oxygen systems ensure that oxygen is always available for use in emergencies where the entire cabin’s oxygen system is not necessary. For instance, if a passenger is having trouble breathing, portable oxygen systems come in handy. Typically, they hold up to 11 cubic feet of oxygen and each cylinder has at least one disposable mask for administering oxygen.
During an emergency landing, evacuation tools allow passengers and crew members to safely exit the plane. Some of the standard aircraft evacuation tools include a crash ax, a break-in area, flashlights, megaphones, escape ropes, and evacuation slides.
Enhanced Emergency Medical Kits (EEMKs)
Before crewmembers go on their first flight, they undergo first aid training. To carry out aid to anyone on board, an enhanced emergency medical kit (EEMK) is available on all aircraft. Apart from bandages, antibiotic ointments, and other materials, the FAA also requires that EEMKs have specific quantities of other life-saving materials, some of which include medications for pain relief, heart stimulants, inhalers, IV administration kits and a self-inflating resuscitation device. If a medical emergency that cannot be handled by a crew member occurs, a licensed medical provider onboard can provide aid in their place.
Fire Safety Equipment
Fires ensue for many reasons, from excess oil igniting and causing an engine fire to overheated food items in the galley catching fire, crew members can approach such incidents with the proper fire safety equipment.
Halon 1211 Fire Extinguishers
If an electrical, oil, or fuel fire starts, crew members can easily extinguish it with a Halon 1211 fire extinguisher. The chemical within this agent is suitable for use in cold weather and does not conduct electricity. However, the vapor created by the interaction between Halon and fire can result in dizziness when inhaled; thus, the cabin must be ventilated after use. Additionally, crew members must wear oxygen masks set to 100% oxygen use when dealing with the fire. The number of Halon fire extinguishers varies according to aircraft size, though typically, there are two to three.
Portable Water Fire Extinguishers
These fire extinguishers hold a pressurized solution of alkali salts in water, and are ideal for wood, paper, or fabric fires.
Protective Breathing Units (PBUs)
PBUs are essentially smoke hoods that protect crew members from smoke inhalation. Each PBU comes in a bag with a tamper-proof seal. To use a PBU, place the hood over your head and activate the oxygen cylinder inside.
Water Emergency Equipment
For water landings, water flotation devices are deployed to keep passengers and crew members safe until help arrives, some of which include life vests, seat cushions, life rafts, and more.
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