What is the procedure when a pilot ejects into deep water?

A Navy pilot ejected off the Virginia coast and was rescued.

The pilot is strapped into that seat. It doesn’t look like it would float very well. Or does it float?

I’ve heard the G forces ejecting can knock out the pilot? He’s in that pressure suit too.
What is the procedure when a pilot ejects into deep water?

The seat separates automatically (with modern ones). The life vest will keep him afloat (doesn’t take much air to do it, only a breath or so, and there’s a gas inflator). The dinghy/survival pack should also separate from the seat and stay with him.

Interesting. I knew it must be designed to give the pilot a good chance of surviving.
Thanks Mk VII.

The news said it was a F/A-18E. I think this is the seat.

This article says the life raft deployed. He was picked up a few minutes later by a fishing boat.

There’s a survival pack attached to the seat/pilot. When the seat separates from an ejected pilot, the survival pack goes with the pilot. The life raft is part of that and inflates when it hits water.

Did they ever solve the problem with the parachutes dragging pilots underwater if s/he didn’t cut it off after splashdown (say cause they’re unconscious, in rough seas, or something).

Improved quick releases nowadays.

The life vest is self-inflating on contact with water (possibly salt water, I don’t remember), built into the the harness used to “Strap in” to the jet, and designed to roll the aircrew face-up in the water. Or at least that’s the way things worked when I flew in fighters circa 1988-1992.

Part of our annual air crew training included water survival. The sucky part of this was getting dragged behind a boat to simulate wind drag, and having to release the parachute harness. The fun part was we got to go para-sailing at the end of training.

I also got to experience the infamous “dunker” training for chopper crews. Did. Not. Like. Picture a big ass oil drum on steroids. Big enough to seat a crew of six or so. Suspended over a swimming pool. Capable of dropping into the pool, slowly sinking, and then rotating upside down. We had to wait for the damn thing to sink, trying to grab one last good breath before it did, then wait for it to flip over, and finally de-ass the drum and swim to the surface. After we passed that exercise, we had to do it again. Blindfolded. It sucked.

The “pressure suit” you’re thinking of is more like an abdominal corset and leg cuffs. It pressurizes when the pilot pulls back on the control stick to help keep the blood out of their legs/abdomen and up in their brain. The onset of g forces during aerobatic maneuvers is slow enough that the suit can inflate in time to be effective at this.

An ejection event is altogether different. Whereas aerobatic maneuvers rarely exceed 9 g’s, an ejection briefly subjects the pilot to 20 g’s or more, since the goal is to get him out of that plane RIGHT NOW. The duration is very short; the period of extremely high g’s only lasts a fraction of a second, faster than the g suit can usefully inflate. However, this is also so fast that there’s not enough time for the brain to become hypoxic. However however, 20 g’s is enough to produce significant spinal injuries in many ejection survivors; I have heard apocryphal stories that ejection survivors end up shorter because of permanent deformation of all of their spinal discs.

If the ejection happens at high aircraft speed, there can also be windblast-related injuries.

An interesting aside about ejection seats, at least the ones made by Martin-Baker:

I was taught that if we ejected above 400 knots, wind/flailing injury was likely. Above 600 knots, survival was…uncertain at best.

My own situation was even worse, depending on which aircraft I was in. I was an aerial photographer. Most of the time, I used a motion picture camera capable of filming in slow motion. Damn thing was all metal, and weighed about 15 pounds. In the back seat of an F-4, there is nowhere to stow the camera during ejection. It has to ride out on my thigh, meaning my leg would likely be broken in any ejection scenario. F-15 two seat models were much better. Tons of room to store the camera, extra batteries, film, etc.