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20_kN

Could someone with no training land a parachute out of a failing aircraft?

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I've told a few of my friends that I jump and sometimes a few will tell me that they dont see the purpose of jumping out of a functional airplane. I usually respond to the effect that if the aircraft was going down and there was a parachute on board, it likely would not help much without any training or experience using it.

This is the premise of my thinking. Someone is on an airplane and there is a parachute on board within reasonable access (say overhead compartments). Assuming the aircraft suffered a catastrophic failure, could someone with no training get the rig, put it on, get the door open, jump with no goggles, deploy the canopy and land without seriously injuring themselves?

My guess has always been no, not likely. Most people wouldent even know that modern sport rigs deploy the main from the back, not the front, and I suspect most untrained persons would start pulling handles in the front. Further, if the airplane is rocking around due to major failure, it’s going to be very hard to get a rig on, even for someone used to putting it on. Even if they get out the door, most likely they will instantly become unstable and stay unstable so now they are trying to figure out how to use the rig while tumbling, spinning, with limited vision, an unknown altitude and probably a high heart rate and extreme fear.

What are your thoughts? This would make for a good Mythbusters episode!

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Personally, I'd say that the vast majority of the time, the same applies to someone with parachute training. Getting it on takes awhile. Making sure you get out the opening is a crapshoot -- there have been aircraft accidents with skydivers in the plane who couldn't get out because of the aircraft dynamics.

It's happened during aircraft emergencies mainly when the pilot and crew are already wearing emergency parachute equipment, and even then there are no guarantees.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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As I travel a lot with my rig (for safe keeping, not for a bailout scenario) I must admit the idea has humored me on several occasions.


If the aircraft were to have a catastrophic failure at cruising altitude (33.000 - 40.000 feet) the time of useful consciousness for a non-trained person performing physical work can be down to a few seconds in a depressurized cabin. Even a trained person and with a low (25.000) cruising altitude will likely not have more than 30 seconds of TUC. And no, comparing it to holding your breath at sea level won't work ;)

If you are able to get your oxygen mask on it will help, but you may still end up unconscious especially if performing work, as the mask are merely designed to keep you alive until the pilots can get the aircraft down to lower altitudes. You are also likely to face heavy fogging in the interior of the aircraft for a time as the cabin air cools and the relative humidity rapidly changes.


If you are able to handle all this and miraculously get your rig on, you need to get out of the aircraft. Since you mention catastrophic failure, I'm going to assume that there is a big enough hole in the fuselage to get out. This will most likely also mean that the aircraft is not behaving as usual, which means moving around in the cabin and getting to the outside will be eventful. Depending on where the fuselage rupture is will determine how easy it will be getting out and not getting caught in an engine or struck by the tail as you exit.

Great. You made it. You are miraculously outside the aircraft with your rig on and if you had a calibrated altimeter, it would now show 28.000 feet. Now what? Even if you have not up to this point, you are very likely to faint within the next few seconds. If you deploy your main right of the bat, you will be spending too much time in a low pressure environment and will likely die. If you don't, well, you'll faint and it's unlikely that you will come to before it's time to deploy. But how about turning on the AAD before you exit the aircraft? That won't work either, as any modern AAD will self test and calibrate as you turn it on, and it will not be amused by the fact that you are in a (very) low pressure environment, quickly descending. Unless you have one of those mechanical AADs, in which case, congratulations, you come prepared.

So what can you do? Perhaps pulling your PC holding it in your hand until you faint is an option. You will be unconscious anyway by the time you're slammed by the hard opening caused by low air pressure and high opening speed. And maybe you will survive and even come to before landing, so that you may hook your 270 into the local college campus and impress the girls. Or maybe not. Either way I wish you luck!

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>Someone is on an airplane and there is a parachute on board within reasonable access
>(say overhead compartments). Assuming the aircraft suffered a catastrophic failure,
>could someone with no training get the rig, put it on, get the door open, jump with no
>goggles, deploy the canopy and land without seriously injuring themselves?

The odds are well under 1%.

Of all the fatal aircraft crashes I have looked at there's really only one that would have given anyone that chance - JAL 123. It was a 747 that had a rear bulkhead blow out; this took out the vertical stabilizer and hydraulic controls. This left the aircraft uncontrollable and it wallowed around for about 30 minutes before hitting a mountain. Over 500 people were killed.

This is unique because it was an incident where:

1) the aircraft remained (somewhat) stable after the catastrophic failure
2) there was at least a potential chance to exit the aircraft due to the big hole in the tail

Working against your chances there:

1) The ceiling in the rear collapsed (i.e. problematic getting to the overhead compartments, or getting out)
2) It is not easy to exit out a ragged hole without cutting yourself to ribbons, especially at those airspeeds

So even there, given an experienced skydiver, I wouldn't give him great odds.

========

General notes -

Goggles isn't much of an issue. You don't have to see well once you are out of the plane.

Hypoxia is a big issue. Unless it happens close to takeoff or landing you are going to get hypoxic very quickly. The critical timing is from the time the aircraft first depressurizes to the time that you open the parachute; if you can do that in under about 30 seconds you might have a chance, but again that would be a stretch for even an experienced skydiver.

Stability is NOT a big issue. Reserves are designed to deploy in any orientation - and of all the risks you face in such a scenario, a reserve malfunction is pretty low on the list.

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And if you are over the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, or over the North or South Pole, or somewhere over the Himalayas, and have managed to find yourself alive under an open canopy, you have a few new problems on your plate.

ETA:

The explosive decompression at 40 grand would incapacitate
everyone pretty instantly anyway...
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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And if you are over the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, or over the North or South Pole, or somewhere over the Himalayas, and have managed to find yourself alive under an open canopy, you have a few new problems on your plate.



Probably sufficient problems to wish you had been unconscious in the fireball of the impacting aircraft instead...

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OK, further speculation just for the heck of it...

So the aircraft has catastrophic damage, it is going to crash, but everything else is in your favor - it is stable, you're at a reasonable altitude, there is a safe exit point and you have every chance of exiting, opening, and landing safely. You have a tandem rig, meaning you can take somebody with you. Who do you take? The hottest girl/most attractive person to you? The young brilliant kid with a lifetime of potential ahead of them? The wealthiest person in 1st class? Who, indeed...

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dudeman17

OK, further speculation just for the heck of it...

So the aircraft has catastrophic damage, it is going to crash, but everything else is in your favor - it is stable, you're at a reasonable altitude, there is a safe exit point and you have every chance of exiting, opening, and landing safely. You have a tandem rig, meaning you can take somebody with you. Who do you take? The hottest girl/most attractive person to you? The young brilliant kid with a lifetime of potential ahead of them? The wealthiest person in 1st class? Who, indeed...



Fill a rucksack with wallets???
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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So the aircraft has catastrophic damage, it is going to crash, but everything else is in your favor - it is stable, you're at a reasonable altitude, there is a safe exit point and you have every chance of exiting, opening, and landing safely. You have a tandem rig, meaning you can take somebody with you. Who do you take? The hottest girl/most attractive person to you? The young brilliant kid with a lifetime of potential ahead of them? The wealthiest person in 1st class? Who, indeed...



The son of that one guy that was killed when you diverted the trolley a few years back.

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Since the FAA has started coming to some of our shows I got a rig for the pilot. I got it out for him but he was talking to someone in the other room. I made the mistake of going to the bathroom and when I came out he had it across his back and was pulling the risers with one hand and the leg straps with the other. It had to be repacked.
This was from a very experienced pilot. He's also an idiot, but that's not exactly thin on the ground either.

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This all assumes we are talking about commercial aircraft. I never said it had to be a jet. This could be a single or dual engine prop aircraft emergency. So say it's that. Could someone with no training get a rig on, get outside and land safely? I am still going with no, not likely.

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20_kN

This all assumes we are talking about commercial aircraft. I never said it had to be a jet. This could be a single or dual engine prop aircraft emergency. So say it's that. Could someone with no training get a rig on, get outside and land safely? I am still going with no, not likely.



Well plenty of aircrew in WW2 managed it, so yes it is possible. Their training would have been pretty limited. I'm sure quite a few didn't manage it either, even with training.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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20_kN

This all assumes we are talking about commercial aircraft. I never said it had to be a jet. This could be a single or dual engine prop aircraft emergency. So say it's that. Could someone with no training get a rig on, get outside and land safely? I am still going with no, not likely.



What kind of door?

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>> I am still going with no, not likely.

>Well plenty of aircrew in WW2 managed it, so yes it is possible.

You are both right here, I think. Even with training and easy to don parachutes (just clip them to a harness that's already worn) Lancaster crews had a bailout success rate of about 7%. US bombers aircraft had a higher success rate for several reasons, but it was still pretty low (below 25%.)

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Assuming the jumper COULD don the rig AND exit OK.....
then Yes. He or She WILL "LAND the Parachute " .... Gravity will see to THAT.....;)
Now , Whether that landing will be upwind, downwind or crosswind is anyones guess....If the uninitiated person does Any sort of "toggle whipping " chances go Up that the Landing will be rough....
Unclear terrain.... the landing will be rough....
Open fields ??? Maybe survivable......
A round "emergency " Main. and the realization to "drop and roll" could improve the chances of NOT getting Killed " !!! Nasty Scenario, in Any Case.....

:|

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I recall reading of a C-130 shot down in Vietnam. One of the aircrew was laying on the cargo ramp watching for missiles. They were flying about 6000 feet (as I recall) which should have been safe from shoulder fired missiles, but they flew by a mountain and they got hit. The guy saw it coming and managed to get himself inside the cargo area before it hit one of the engines. He grabbed a parachute. I think he had a harness on and only had to buckle the parachute on. While he was doing this he was blown out of the aircraft into the night, with it partially connected. He managed to get it connected and deployed. As I recall, he had some jump experience and was the only survivor of that aircraft.

Not the same as the OP's question, but pretty remarkable.
I can't find the story right now (sorry).
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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