Watch dummies crash into airplane airbags

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A video of crash test dummies in a simulated airplane crash—one dummy cushioned by an airbag, the other one not—popped up on YouTube this week. The one-minute video captures a test of AmSafe's airbag system, the only one certified for use on commercial aircraft. (AmSafe is also the maker of nearly all traditional airplane seatbelts.) Take a look at the video, below.

What you may not know is that, since autumn 2009, all new U.S. planes have been required to have airbags installed in seats facing a bulkhead, or wall. The airbags aim to boost the odds of survivability in a crash, as aviation blogger The Cranky Flier noted yesterday.

Chances are high that you've recently flown on an airplane with airbags on it, even if your individual seat may not have had one.

Airbags are usually recognizable, at least for coach class seats, as large pouches attached to the belt. But you'll only see them, as noted, if you're seated in particular parts of the plane.

Airbags also increasingly standard for all seats on Cathay Pacific, which has introduced coach class seats with hard shells (that slide forward instead of recline backward). Passengers need airbags in case their heads hit the hard shelled seats in front of them in an emergency.

For any airbag, the goal is to keep passengers conscious through a head strike due to airplane deceleration at 16 times the force of gravity.

Have you been in a plane seat with an airbag in it? Was it uncomfortable? Do you think all seats should have airbags, even if they're inconvenient? Sound off in the comments!


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