Of all the things to come out of an engineering notebook, the escape capsule designed for civil aircraft may be the one that’s getting the most attention lately. Although there aren’t any aircraft that use this design yet, it may be the first of its kind to be a feasible solution to the problem of people dying in airplane crashes. The idea is ridiculously simple, as most great inventions are. However, the logistics of it may mean more expense than aircraft companies want to put into the safety of their passengers.
Escape Capsule Premise
Essentially, the concept is that, with the push of a button, all passengers could be ejected from the plane at one time and never even leave their seats. The capsule itself is the seating area, and it is attached to one or more parachutes that prevent the capsule from crashing to the ground. There are also floatation devices involved, just in case the passengers have to land in a large body of water. Of course, all of this is proven in theory, but could be costly for airlines, because the engineering notebook that holds the designs makes it clear that the planes have to be built around the capsule, rather than modifying existing planes. In other words, the capsule itself is the bulk of the plane, with the area outside of it holding the engines and serving as a sort of protective shell while in flight.
Materials and Weight
The idea of using a capsule or some sort of escape pod isn’t all that new. The problem has always been finding material that could be used to create the design in a real life scenario. Airplanes are already designed to account for the weight of the passengers and fuel, and adding more weight means adjusting the overall design or even flying at lower heights. However, there has been some success with carbon-fiber, a lightweight material that could carry the passengers to safety without adding more weight to the plane than is realistic.
Burden of Expense
With all of the airplane crashes that have happened in the past decade, one would think that this would be the perfect solution for any airline that wants to promote safety. The problem is that it means not just buying new planes, but using new designs and materials, as well as reducing the amount of passengers the plane can carry. This is because the capsule takes up more space than is currently used inside of airplanes. Should airlines decide to take this route, the expense would most likely be passed on to the consumer in an already stressed economy.
Sadly, the capsule may have to stay in the engineering notebooks for now, but at least there is a potential for it to become a reality. Even airplanes have to be replaced, every now and then. Who says they can’t be replaced with a freshly designed model when the time comes? Consumers might be more willing to pay higher prices if they know there is very little risk of harm during flight.