Travelling on flights is an expensive affair and airlines put a lot of effort into delivering quality service to their passengers. The flying regulatory bodies and airlines leave no stone unturned to ensure a smooth and safe travel experience for the passengers.
With so much emphasis on safety, you would expect the aircraft to be equipped with a parachute for every passenger, right? However, in contrast to the general assumption, commercial flights do not have parachutes for passengers. And it’s not because airlines do not care about lives.
A parachute requires certain specialised skills to be operated and general passengers may not have it. Even the most basic skydivers require preparation even when the jumper is harnessed to a trained instructor to manage things in the air. According to CNT Traveller, a Static jump — when a solo skydiver falls away from a plane and the parachute is deployed by a “static line” attached to the aircraft — requires at least four to five hours of training. However, static jumps can only be performed in skydiving places.
Unlike skydiving planes that fly somewhere between 15,000 to 16,000 feet above the ground, commercial planes sail at altitudes higher than 35,000 feet.
“Altitudes above, probably, 18,000 feet would be dangerous for someone to exit and immediately deploy a parachute,” says Jim Crouch, director of safety and training for the U.S. Parachute Association.
Additionally, commercial planes fly at a higher speed, making them unsuitable for jumping with parachutes. Making a skydive when a plane is flying higher than the speed of 150 miles per hour can lead to injuries and even fatalities because of the forces applied during the deployment. With most commercial planes flying at a speed close to 500 miles per hour, the idea of jumping may not be safe.
Additionally, there’s also a logistical factor. Parachute kits cost big bucks and are quite heavy. So if an airline decides to place a parachute for every passenger on board, the weight of the airplane will shoot up by close to 3 thousand kg. So airlines will be forced to use larger aircraft, resulting in a higher cost of travel.