Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Rear Crew escape system

Due to high costs it was decided that it would not be practical to fit Ejection seats for all crew members in the V Bombers.

Martin Baker did trial a full crew ejection seat system but due to varying reasons ,it was not put into production.

A system was therefore developed to assist the rear crew to be able to get out of the aircraft fast in an emergency situation.

This involved the development of a swivel 'Assisted Escape Seat' and this was retro-fitted to all Mk1 and Mk2 V Bombers after a number of fatalities caused by fixed non-swivel seating.
Assisted Escape Seat

The seat was fitted with a powerful spring loaded back rest and a 'booster cushion' under the seat occupant. In order to operate the system the occupant turned the seat to face the door and pulled a yellow and black handle.

This discharged an air cylinder into the cushion which 'lifted' the occupant to his feet. But in order to vacate the aircraft the spring loaded back rest was sprung forward literally pushing and lifting the occupant to his feet and forward towards the open door. Prior to this the door had to be opened and in an emergency could be blown open by operating a door 'blow open' system operated by a shielded operating lever in the front of the AEO/NAV table.

Emergency door opening lever

Once out of the seat and pushed forward the seat harness lap strap was detached from the seat and the occupant was heading out of the door attached to his parachute, emergency oxygen and PSP (personal survival pack). In order to clear the aircraft the leading portion of the crew door was thus designed to create a 'stall area' allowing the crew member to drop safely clear of the lower lip of the engine intakes.
Open crew door

This system was successfully used in genuine emergency situations.

I have spoken to many V Bomber aircrew over the years about the pro's and con's of the pilots having ejection seats. The general consensus how I interpret it, is that no pilot would ever leave his rear crew behind unless there was no practical hope that they would get out, such as the Vulcan accident at Luqa, Malta in 1975 where only the pilots were able to get out.

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