December 2010 Issue

Retrofitting Restraint

Most personal airplanes left the factory without harnesses providing upper-body restraints. But they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to retrofit.

While none of us plan to crash our airplanes, stuff happens. The NTSB’s database is replete with accident reports involving events like engine failures and ensuing off-airport landings where the engine started and ran fine after the investigators arrived. In many of them, plenty of fuel was aboard and carburetor ice was ruled out. Most of those reports go on to state the engine failed for unknown reasons. We can’t choose when we’ll have to set one down but—by avoiding hostile terrain like mountains and oceans, or flying only in daytime VFR—we can choose many of the conditions we’ll experience. We also have the ability to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

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