Air Crash Survival | Why Passengers & Crew Should Assume an Appropriate "Brace-for-Impact Position" - Aviation Professional

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Air Crash Survival | Why Passengers & Crew Should Assume an Appropriate "Brace-for-Impact Position"

Brace-for-Impact Position



Over the nearly 112 Years of aviation accident investigation, many safety recommendations have been developed and implemented, and the domain of aviation made increasingly safe. Most of these recommendations, however, are not specific to cabin safety.

Concerning cabin safety, accident investigations have shown that deficiencies and inaccuracies in safety information briefings, signs, placards, and markings can negatively impact passenger survival rates. Well-informed, knowledgeable passengers have a better chance of surviving life-threatening situations that may occur onboard an aircraft.

In this article, I am going to give you a summary of the brace-for-impact position, commonly referred to as the brace position, which is adapted by passengers and crew to reduce an injury during a crash sequence. The next article will be about brace-for-impact positions with images.

 Brace for Impact " Meaning

A brace-for-impact position commonly referred to as the brace position, is to reduce an aircraft occupant’s injuries during a crash sequence. Injuries may result from the initial impact(s) of the aircraft against the terrain, or obstacles when an occupant’s body and limbs flail around the fixed point of the seat belt.

The brace position serves two purposes:

a) it reduces flailing by having the forward-facing occupant flex, bend, or lean forward over his/her legs in some manner; and

b) it reduces secondary-impact injuries by pre-positioning the body, predominantly the head, against the surface that it would otherwise strike during that secondary impact, thus reducing the momentum of the head and other parts of the body.

Research on Brace Positions

Since the 1960s, extensive research has been conducted on brace positions using anthropomorphic dummies in a series of sled-impact tests. Such research aims to determine the most beneficial passenger brace position in forward-facing, economy-type aircraft seats. Research shows that a reduction of secondary impact by prepositioning the body, predominantly the head, against the surface it would otherwise strike during impact can minimize the potential for injuries during the crash sequence.

Kegworth Air Disaster, British Midland Flight 92, 8 January 1989

In that accident, the pilot announced "Prepare for crash landing" 10 seconds before impact, and the resulting injuries - from both those who did and did not adopt the brace position - this accident used in further study by A research program funded by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority and carried out by teams from the University of Nottingham and Hawtal Whiting Structures (an engineering consultancy company).

The result of the study led to the development of what became known as the Kegworth brace position, which was adopted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority in August 1993 and remains the UK CAA recommended brace position for all forward-facing, lap-belted passengers in UK airlines up to date. The Kegworth brace position was one of many brace positions recommended in ICAO Doc 10086.

 

New  "Brace for Impact" Position for Passengers and Crew

Kegworth Air Disaster research led to the formation of the International Board for Research into Aircraft Crash Events (IBRACE) on 21 November 2016.

IBRACE is a cooperation between experts in the field to produce an internationally agreed, evidence-based set of impact bracing positions for passengers and (eventually) cabin crew members in a variety of seating configurations.

After two years, with the aid from:

-  Experts from civil aviation authorities, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, training organizations, as well as international organizations.

 IBRACE and ICAO Cabin Safety Group (ICSG).

 

ICAO published the first edition, 2018, of The Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety (Doc 10086). This new document contains new recommended brace-for-impact positions and sample commands used by cabin crew members to instruct passengers in the event of an emergency.

 

The Three Phases of an Aircraft Accident

Passengers and crew survivability are linked to three phases of an accident:

Phase 1 :

Surviving the crash sequence (i.e., the impact forces, consequent deceleration, and secondary impacts);

Phase 2 :

 Evacuating the aircraft; and

Phase 3 :

Surviving the post evacuation environment (e.g., sea, jungle, mountainous region).

To enable the physical evacuation of the aircraft, passengers and crew must take action to minimize the potential for injuries during the crash sequence. One action that Passengers and crew can take to contribute to their survival is to assume an appropriate brace-for-impact position.

Passenger Safety Briefing Card

The passenger safety briefing card provides information on exit locations and the use and location of emergency equipment. Additionally, it includes relevant safety and emergency procedures that, when followed correctly, can significantly improve a passenger’s survival following an accident. Information is presented in a visual and pictorial format that assists passengers to respond to an emergency as quickly and effectively as possible.

The passenger safety briefing card is also an important tool that cabin crew members can use to individually brief passengers during an anticipated emergency.

 

National Civil Aviation Regulations

ICAO safety standards require States to enforce operators to communicate specific information and instructions to passengers in a variety of methods to facilitate understanding, especially, during abnormal and emergencies.

Annex 6, Part I, contains a requirement that passengers be instructed on actions to take in the event of an emergency. The operator must provide instructions to passengers in the event of an emergency, such as the preparation of the cabin for an anticipated emergency landing or ditching. ( ICAO Annex 6, Part I, paragraph 4.2.12.3).

 

Note: This lifesaving information is relayed to passengers via passenger safety briefing cards, videos, signs, placards, emergency lighting systems, and verbal briefings provided by crew members.

 

Preparing for Anticipated Emergency Landing/Ditching 

Cabin crew members are trained to respond to a variety of safety-related situations including conducting an evacuation, which in part entails managing passengers in such a way as to optimize egress from the aircraft.

As soon as it is expected that an emergency landing will be required the senior cabin crew member will be called by the cockpit by the captain for emergency briefing (NITES). While other crew members will suspend service and go to their emergency stations to receive a briefing from the senior cabin crew member.

When all cabin crew is briefed, then they will take their safety demonstration positions in the cabin, then the captain may make the first announcement to the passengers.

The cabin crew will start to seek passengers to assist in the evacuation, these passengers are called able-bodied men.

After the final check of the cabin, the brace command will be given by the captain on the P.A (brace, brace) or by another signal. Brace command will be initiated approximately 200ft/30 seconds before impact. On hearing the " brace" command, the cabin crew will brace and shout relevant commands to passengers. All will remain in the brace position until the aircraft has to come to a complete stop.

 

Unanticipated Emergency Landing/Ditching 

In an unanticipated emergency landing, the captain may only have time to give the warning to brace for impact. In this case, Well-informed, knowledgeable passengers have a better chance of surviving.

 

Conclusion

Most aviation-related accidents result in fatalities while the fact is most aviation accidents are survivable. Aircraft occupants can significantly increase their chance of survival and lower their risk of injury by assuming an appropriate “brace for impact” position. “Brace for impact” is an action whereby an individual prepositions their body against whatever surface they are most likely to strike during impact, thereby reducing impact forces and subsequent injuries.

 

ICAO published the first edition, 2018, of The Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety (Doc 10086). This new document contains new recommended brace-for-impact positions and sample commands used by cabin crew members to instruct passengers in the event of an emergency.

 

ICAO safety standards require States to enforce operators to communicate specific information and instructions to passengers in a variety of methods to facilitate understanding, especially, during abnormal and emergencies.

Thank you for visiting our website, and we welcome any update or addition to this article.

We will be very happy if you share this article for the benefit of many civil aviation professionals

 

Further reading:

The Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety (ICAO Doc 10086)

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