Why aren’t airliners equipped with parachutes? That question is answered on this Moment of Science.
Ever wonder why commercial airplanes aren’t equipped with parachutes? One problem is that most commercial planes fly at a speed of about five hundred miles per hour. Jumping from a plane going that fast would crush you. And even if the plane could slow down in flight, which it can’t, you’d be jumping at an altitude of over forty thousand feet. At that height, the atmosphere is so thin that you would need a special oxygen supply to keep you alive until you got down to about ten thousand feet where there’s plenty of air.
Also, most commercial airplane accidents happen during take-off or landing, when the plane hasn’t reached an altitude high enough to enable parachuting. Plus, parachutes are delicate and hard to maintain; using them requires special training. What’s more, the plane would need special in-flight exits that would allow you to clear the plane without bumping into the wings. And all that’s before we even begin to consider the logistics of getting dozens of people into their parachutes and out of the plane.
In the event of any emergency, it’s always important to stay calm. Even when landing in water, the plane often floats long enough to enable everyone to safely get off. In the event of a water landing, the plane is equipped with floating devices.