The Dangers Behind Using Fighter Jet Ejection Seat Systems

If one thing goes wrong, these pilots could be in grave danger.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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When fighter jets go down, there is only one way for pilots to be saved, and that is to use the ejection seats. At that point, pilots call 'mayday' and are violently exited from the aircraft where they then parachute down.

The entire process takes seconds and requires the coordination of many components such as the ejection seat, the catapult, the rocket, the restraints, and the parachute. All these elements must go off in a certain sequence, and near-instantly.

If the slightest mistake occurs, the fleeing pilot could find themselves in a whole lot of trouble. How does it work?

A pilot must first trigger the ejection process using a mechanism such as a handle. This sends an electrical pulse that signals thrusters to blow the canopy or unlock the hatch, then either rotate it up and out into the air stream or blow it out of the plane.

But that's not all! What needs to happen next? What process is set to protect pilots from the sudden thrust of ejection seats? How do pilots stay safe while in the air? How are the parachutes deployed to land safely? What happens if something goes wrong? We answer all these questions and more.

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