I’ve been listening to an audiobook on the crash of Flight 232 in Sioux City, IA in 1989. You may remember this crash: the plane lost an engine and all hydraulics. The crash was horrific, and 112 people died, but the flight deck crew, headed by Al Haynes, did an heroic job of steering the plane with brute force, and the fact so many survived (184) is due to them. The movie Fearless is based in part on the actions of Jerry Schemmel, a passenger who escaped from the plane but reentered the burning wreckage to save a baby.
In the book, a flight attendant says she doesn’t like the brace position commonly used today, wherein a passenger crosses her wrists on the seat in front of her, grabs the seat back, and rests her head between her arms. (We’ll call this A.) She said people’s heads have broken their hands.
The alternate position, B, where passengers grab their ankles, makes more sense to me. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen B featured in safety instructions. I understand British airlines recommend C, which involves passengers putting their heads between their knees and placing their hands over the backs of their heads.
Which brace position is safest? Is B no longer standard, and if it’s not, is it because seat rows are too close together now? With A, wouldn’t the force of the crash force arms and heads up and generally expose passengers to more flying debris?
Also, I’ve noticed that flight attendants’ jump seats have safety harnesses that cross the torso. Obviously, there are no seat backs to grab, but is the harness safer than a bent-forward brace position? If so, why don’t passenger seats have shoulder harnesses? If not, why aren’t flight attendants wearing a lap belt only and assuming the brace position?