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yobnoc

Commercial Flight

Question

Recently, my wife and I traveled for the first time on a commercial flight with our rigs (we're new to the sport).  We were having a side conversation (not too loud, of course, for fear of getting sideways glances or more from TSA) about what would happen in a catastrophic event on the plane.  This is not meant to be a super serious topic.  With that said, what actions would you take to try to have the best chance at survival if the plane started to descend uncontrollably from cruising altitude?  Would exiting the plane even be feasible?

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Not likely you'd ever get out. The airspeed of a commercial jet is so fast you'd never get the door open, not even with multiple people helping. All the doors I've seen open outward and toward the relative wind which makes them virtually impossible to open in flight. You might be able to get one of the emergency doors over the wings open, but the hole would probably be too small to get through with a rig on. Plus if the plane was in a spin, shit would be flying everywhere and you'd be lucky if you could even get the overhead bin open let alone take it out of your luggage, put it on, get to the door, open the door, jump, ect. Then of course there are issues with altitude. If you got out at 20k or below, fine. But if you got out at 36,000', you could pass out quickly without supplemental O2 and your hands would freeze likely rendering complete loss of feeling.  You'd have to be selective of the door too. If you chose one of the forward doors, your exit path could put you straight into the wing or one of the engines. Any one of these things would be an issue. All of them combined make it ultra unlikely you'd pull it off.

Even skydivers in jump planes sitting right next to a door intended to be easily opened with their rig on have had issues getting out during emergencies.

Edited by 20kN
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20kN has it right. I will add if the plane is not depressurized, you won't be able to open the emergency doors. If it is depressurized, but still at high altitude, you will have to stay on oxygen to function, and so it would be hard to get to a door unless you are right next to it, and it would have to be an over-wing hatch door. I do think you could get out of a hatch with your rig on.

So you need two events:

1. A plane that is depressurized

2. A plane that cannot fly

If both of these are true, there has probably been a catastrophic air-frame failure, most likely a terrorist attack or a really bad engine failure that damaged the wing / tail and the fuselage, so in addition to having to deal with oxygen and getting to a hatch and opening it and getting out into a very high slipstream (300+mph?) the plane could be spinning or tumbling as well, a very challenging situation. You would want to stay on oxygen until below 20k ft, or try to hyperventilate on oxygen before exiting.
 

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On 3/29/2019 at 6:49 PM, yobnoc said:

Recently, my wife and I traveled for the first time on a commercial flight with our rigs (we're new to the sport).  We were having a side conversation (not too loud, of course, for fear of getting sideways glances or more from TSA) about what would happen in a catastrophic event on the plane.  This is not meant to be a super serious topic.  With that said, what actions would you take to try to have the best chance at survival if the plane started to descend uncontrollably from cruising altitude?  Would exiting the plane even be feasible?

Nope.  In all the air disasters I have looked at, only two that I can think of (TWA 800 and JAL 123) would there even be a slight chance of getting out and making your situation any better.  And you'd have to be wearing your rig when the incident occurred (with no warning) and be VERY lucky to be able to exit without getting killed or incapacitated.

Keep in mind that for that parachute to do any good you have to have:

1) a situation where everyone is certainly going to die (if not it's always better to stay with the plane, just based on the odds)

2) a way to exit (a big hole or a blown hatch or something)

3) a stable enough aircraft that you can use that exit.

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