Since the 1940s, aerial vehicles have had a system that enables the survival of those who drive them, although it does not guarantee it.
airplanes are the safest mode of transportation and within that statement combat aircraft are also included. This continues to be the case despite the two accidents that have taken place in the last five days in Spain, which have tragically ended the lives of its two young occupants. Last October 12 ° he died Captain Borja Aybar, after crashing the Eurofighter of Wing 14 piloted at the Los Llanos air base (Albacete), where he returned after participating at national holiday parade. Just five days later, another military pilot, the Lieutenant Fernando Perez Serrano, passed away this Tuesday during the takeoff maneuver airplane F-18 at the air base Torrejon de Ardoz.
In both cases, a few minutes passed from the time the accident was made public until the revealed the death of the pilot. The reason: both vehicles had ejection seats which, in theory, could have allowed them to save their lives. It is, in fact, the main purpose of this essential component of a combat aircraft. And it is far from new, although innovation in its development is constant, as can be seen in the web from one of the leading manufacturers, the British company Martin-Baker.
The first ejection seat used by German test pilot Helmut Schenk, who was able to escape from his aircraft on 13 of January of 1942 after this I know freeze and it will be inoperative.
The ejection system who used that first seat, manufactured by the German factory Heinkel, was compressed gas but, since then, many other systems have been developed, What explosive charges mounted on two tubes that, when activated, produced a controlled explosion which propels gases with enough force to lift the seat out of the cabin.
At first glance, a ejection seat is indistinguishable from a normal one. It is the components that surround it that differentiate it and, above all, the trigger mechanism. these armchairs They are equipped with a cable that is placed above the head or between the legs and that, when pulled by the occupant, activates a mechanism that ejects the seat along with its occupant from the aircraft cabin at high speed. A few tenths of seconds later and when it is several meters from the plane, the seat separates from its occupant and unfolds a parachute so that it descends slowly.
It is a maneuver not risk free: the wind, the path of the cola of the plane or the position in which the ejection takes place can even cause the pilot do not survive despite having escaped from the damaged plane.
It is also a procedure that can’t always be used. In the case of the Los Llanos accident, they do not know the causes for which the pilot did not eject although it seems that he was not able to raise the plane as it should be done just before landing -after the descent- and he fell to the ground. In the tragedy of this Tuesday, as defense sources have explained to EL ESPAÑOL, it seems that the ejection of the F18 only works when the aircraft is at a certain height. As the accident occurred on takeoff, it did not have time to be used.