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Why Airliners Don't Provide Emergency Parachutes

The underside of a commercial airliner taking off at sunset

Have you ever wondered why airliners are equipped with parachutes? Well, there are several reasons.

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 did slow down, you'd be jumping at an altitude of over forty thousand feet, where the atmosphere is so thin you'd need a special oxygen supply to keep you alive until you got lower down.

Another issue is that most commercial airplane accidents happen during take-off or landing, when the plane hasn't reached an altitude high enough to enable parachuting. 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.

Read More:

  • Airline Industry at Its Safest Since the Dawn of the Jet Age (New York Times)
  • VIDEO: Physics of Skydiving (YouTube)

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