Air Bags in the Air

The late, brilliant comic George Carlin frequently riffed on air travel, especially some of the processes and procedures that we have to endure after the cabin doors close. “I listen very carefully to the safety lecture, especially the part where they teach us how to use the seatbelts,” he joked in one of his flying-related skits. “Here we are, a plane full of grown human beings, and they’re actually taking time out to describe the intricate workings of a belt buckle!”

Silly or not, that belt buckle is the only personal safety device that passengers receive on most aircraft. An increasing number of carriers have transitioned (or are transitioning) to airbag-equipped seat-belts but full airbags in airline cabins have yet to be widely implemented. That doesn’t mean that designers haven’t considered it; German airline seat manufacturer Recaro has recently filed a patent for an airbag that would be installed in the first or business class cabins. Recaro’s patent illustrations show that, in the event of a crash, the airbag would deploy from a compartment beside the in-flight entertainment screen.

The airbag would inflate in two separate zones, with the first providing immediate impact protection for the passenger’s head, and the second inflating to cushion the passenger’s shoulders.

Recaro has not linked its patent to any particular carrier but, but the firm designs and constructs seats for dozens of different airline customers around the globe.

If those airbags are ever implemented in premium cabins, we look forward to hearing about them in the safety lecture. Just make sure you fasten your seat-belt too.

Jelisa Castrodale is contributor to USA TODAY’s Road Warrior Voices and her posts are occasionally used in Ben Mutzabaugh’s Today in the Sky blog.

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