Just a quick note before we head out to EAA AirVenture tomorrow.
The AmSafe air bag-seatbelts have been installed, just in time for the big show! Here’s how the system breaks down:
The air bag portion of the assembly is in the lap belt. The G-sensor unit and the inflation bottles (one per seat) are mounted beneath the floor. Should the airplane experience a 9-G deceleration within 45 milliseconds or so, the sensor trips the bottles and their helium-argon gas charges are sent to the air bags. These inflate, causing the seams of the lap belt to break open, and releasing the air bags. The rectangular-shaped air bags then inflate to protect an area that extends from above the front-seat occupants’ heads to their waists. This way, the head and torso are prevented from striking the glareshield, instrument panel, control yokes, and other interior elements. The air bags remain inflated for three to five seconds, then gradually deflate (the bags are made of a porous material).
The AmSafe system runs approximately $3,800 for the Cessna 182. Installations in other airplanes vary–for example, the Cessna 172’s system runs $3,200. Installtion time is six to eight hours. As for maintenance, the system must be checked annually (using an on-board diagnostic test port); the EMA (electronic module assembly, or G-sensing unit) must be refurbished every seven years; the EMA’s life limit is 14 years; and there’s a 10-year life limit on the inflation bottles.
For more information–and a video of the air bags in action–go to www.gaairbags.com
Here’s a shot of the belts just before they were installed: