What is an aircraft life raft?

aircraft life raft

Aircraft Life Raft

The aircraft life raft is an evacuation device that inflates automatically upon opening the door of an aircraft. It inflates unless predetermined actions are accomplished before the door is opened. 


The device comprises individually operable and pneumatically distinct upper and lower inflation tube assemblies that support a slide surface therebetween across which persons jumping from the aircraft may slide to ground level. A canopy may be fastened across the slide surface so that the device can be utilized to be a raft in an aircraft ditching situation.


Why do they call it aircraft slid/raft?

The aircraft slide/raft functions are similar to a slide - Evacuation slide- for an emergency landing on the ground and add capabilities for evacuation after a water landing (ditching). 


The aircraft raft mooring line, which fastens the slide/raft to a point near its exit door, can be cut by occupants with the supplied emergency knife.


Note: for general aviation life raft e.g. winslow aviation life raft


Where is the location of the aircraft slid/raft?

Early jet planes had life rafts stored in overhead locations, which were taken down by passengers or crew, and launched through the door in the event of a crash on water.


Modern aircrafts such as Airbus A319, a320 plane, and Airbus 321 are equipped with a slide/raft at each floor-level emergency exit that is attached to the door by a pack board. For the a380 plane, all the upper deck evacuation slides act as slide-rafts.


For the 747 airplane -100/200/300/400, slide-rafts are only located on the main deck, so in a ditching upper deck passengers will have to move to the main deck to evacuate into the slide-rafts.


How aircraft slid/raft work?

For example, Airbus A319, a320 plane, and Airbus 321 a fabric girt and telescopic girt bar are attached to the slide/raft. The telescopic girt bar enables the slide/raft pack to be removed from one floor-level exit’s floor fittings and deployed outside the airplane from another door, if necessary, in the event of a ditching and emergency evacuation in the water. 


When the airplane door is “armed,” the girt bar is attached to the floor fittings on the doorsill so that when the airplane door is opened, the girt bar will pull on the slide/raft and initiate its deployment. When the airplane door is “disarmed” and opened, the girt bar remains attached to and moves with the airplane door, thereby preventing the slide/raft from deploying.


Successfully controlled ditching

Many evacuations on the water are unplanned scenarios with little or no time for the flight crew or the cabin crew to prepare for the event or passengers and crew to don lifejackets or make ready for an evacuation that could be either directly into the water or onto the airplane wings, slide-rafts or life-rafts.


A successfully controlled ditching. One such event with no fatalities occurred on 15 January 2009 involving a320 plane operated by US Airways, (Flight Number 1549). Shortly after take-off from La Guardia, New York, it struck a flock of Canada Geese which caused the almost total loss of thrust in both engines. 


The commander quickly assessed that no available runway could be reached before the airplane lost height, and he elected to ditch in the Hudson River adjacent to Manhattan Island. 


The controlled ditching was successful and all 150 passengers, two flight crew, and three flight attendants evacuated onto slide-rafts and the wings. 


They were rescued by a variety of boats that rapidly arrived at the scene of the accident. The evacuation was initiated by the cabin crew within seconds of the ditching.


Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form