What Safety Equipment Is on an Aircraft?

The aviation industry takes safety seriously. Air travel is generally very safe, and if an accident does happen, every aircraft has the proper equipment to ensure the safety of all crewmembers and passengers.

Learn more about what safety equipment is on an aircraft.

Oxygen Systems

Because air at higher altitudes is colder and less dense, it contains fewer oxygen molecules, making it harder to breathe. Air filtration systems help convert the outside air into breathable air. In case of a system failure, emergency oxygen systems ensure that everyone still has access to oxygen.

Cabin Oxygen System

Each passenger seat, flight attendant seat and bathroom is equipped with oxygen generators and masks. If the cabin altitude reaches 14,000 feet, oxygen masks automatically deploy from above. If the automatic system fails, the flight crew has access to an override switch to open the oxygen doors for the cabin. And in case that doesn’t work, flight attendants can manually open each oxygen door through a release hole in the door.

Flight Crew Oxygen System

The cockpit contains one mask for each member of the flight crew. These masks also include extra features compared to the cabin masks. An inflatable harness ensures that the mask fits securely to the head. A flow-control knob lets the operator tweak the ratio of ambient air to pure oxygen. And a built-in microphone allows for continued communication with the rest of the crew.

Portable Oxygen System

Portable oxygen systems allow for oxygen to be used in emergencies where activation of the entire cabin’s oxygen system is not required. If a passenger is having trouble breathing, flight attendants and licensed medical providers on the plane can bring the oxygen directly to them.

Depending on the size of the cylinder, portable oxygen systems can hold around 11 cubic feet of oxygen. Each cylinder comes with at least one disposable mask for administering oxygen. Pure oxygen flows through the mask by connecting the mask to continuous flow valves at the top of the unit. Depending on the valve used, oxygen flows at either 2 liters per minute or 4 liters per minute. A sticker on the side of the cylinder provides easy-to-read instructions for use.

Evacuation Tools

In an emergency landing, evacuation tools ensure that passengers and crew members can safely exit the plane.

Here is a list of standard aircraft evacuation tools:

  • Flashlights: Every pilot seat houses high-intensity flashlights behind them. These flashlights feature a flashing LED indicator to show that they are working correctly.
  • Crash ax: Usually stored behind the copilot’s seat, the crash ax is strong enough to cut metal, open holes and force open doors and windows.
  • Megaphones: If there’s a power outage to the aircraft’s public address system, megaphones help the crew share critical information.
  • Escape ropes: Some emergency exits open to the wings of the plane. These ropes attach to loops on the wings so passengers can use them to steady themselves while they exit the plane.
  • Evacuation slides: These slides are stored in the emergency exit doors and, once inflated and deployed, passengers can safely exit the plane without dropping from a dangerous height.
  • Break-in area: If emergency personnel need to force their way into the aircraft, a marked break-in area on top of the fuselage lets them know the most accessible place to cut into.

Enhanced Emergency Medical Kits (EEMK)

All flight crewmembers undergo first aid training in case of emergencies, and each aircraft requires an EEMK. In addition to bandages, antibiotic ointments and other materials found in home first-aid kits, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that EEMKs include specific quantities of other life-saving materials. These items include medications for pain relief, heart stimulants, inhalers, IV administration kits and a self-inflating resuscitation device. If a medical emergency is outside the scope of a flight attendant’s training, any licensed medical provider onboard can use an EEMK to provide care in their place.

Fire Safety Equipment

Fires can start within an airplane for many reasons. Whether excess oil ignites and results in an engine fire or overheated food items in the galley catch fire, crewmembers can neutralize most aircraft fires with proper airplane safety equipment.

Halon 1211 Fire Extinguishers

If an electrical, oil or fuel fire starts, crew members will use a Halon 1211 fire extinguisher. The chemical is suitable for use in cold weather and does not conduct electricity, making it perfect for aircraft use. The vapors created when Halon interacts with fire can cause dizziness when inhaled, which is why crewmembers must ventilate the cabin after use. All crew members must wear oxygen masks set to 100% oxygen use to remain alert while dealing with the fire.

The number of Halon fire extinguishers on the plane can vary depending on the size of the aircraft, but a typical passenger aircraft will carry two to three cylinders. A standard 2.5-pound Halon bottle discharges for 8 to 15 seconds before it runs out of chemicals.

Portable Water Fire Extinguishers

Water fire extinguishers are suitable for wood, paper and fabric fires. As the name suggests, these cylinders hold a pressurized solution of alkali salts in water. When operated, the cylinder projects a fine mist that extinguishes the flames.

Protective Breathing Units (PBU)

PBUs are personal smoke hoods that protect crewmembers from smoke inhalation. Each PBU is in a bag with a tamper-proof seal. Once opened, the crewmember places the hood over their head and activates the oxygen cylinder inside.

Water Emergency Equipment

In a water landing, passengers and crewmembers must deploy water flotation devices to remain safe until help arrives.

  • Personal flotation devices: Each crew member and passenger has access to a life vest equipped with a locator light, an instruction manual and an oral inflation system. Additionally, the seat cushions in passenger seats serve as flotation devices during an emergency.
  • Life rafts: Most commonly found in wide-body international aircraft, life rafts are stored in the ceiling near the exits. Life rafts generally have survival kits that include signal flares, knives and covers to block the sun’s harmful rays. In some cases, the evacuation slide itself can even be used as a flotation device.

Keep Airplane Safety Equipment in Good Repair

It’s essential to inspect and repair all safety equipment regularly to ensure your aircraft is ready for any emergency. HRD Aero Systems provides our customers with cost-effective repairs while maintaining quality service. With over 35 years of experience, we’ve proven to be a repair station customers can trust. Contact us today for more information on aviation products and services.