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Ejector seat

Ejector seat

Overview
In aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, an ejection seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft (usually military) in an emergency. In most designs, the seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it. The concept of an eject-able escape capsule
Escape crew capsule
An escape crew capsule allows a pilot to escape from their craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions such as high speed or altitude...

 has also been tried. Once clear of the aircraft, the ejection seat deploys a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

. Ejection seats are common on certain types of military aircraft.



A bungee
Bungee cord
A bungee cord , also known as a shock cord, is an elastic cord composed of one or more elastic strands forming a core, usually covered in a woven cotton or polypropylene sheath...

-assisted escape from an aircraft took place in 1910.
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Encyclopedia
In aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, an ejection seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft (usually military) in an emergency. In most designs, the seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it. The concept of an eject-able escape capsule
Escape crew capsule
An escape crew capsule allows a pilot to escape from their craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions such as high speed or altitude...

 has also been tried. Once clear of the aircraft, the ejection seat deploys a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

. Ejection seats are common on certain types of military aircraft.

History




A bungee
Bungee cord
A bungee cord , also known as a shock cord, is an elastic cord composed of one or more elastic strands forming a core, usually covered in a woven cotton or polypropylene sheath...

-assisted escape from an aircraft took place in 1910. In 1916 Everard Calthrop
Everard Calthrop
Everard Richard Calthrop was a British railway engineer and inventor. Calthrop was a notable promoter and builder of narrow gauge railways, especially of gauge, and was especially prominent in India. His most notable achievement was the Barsi Light Railway; however he is best known in his home...

, an early inventor of parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

s, patented an ejector seat using compressed air
Compressed air
Compressed air is air which is kept under a certain pressure, usually greater than that of the atmosphere. In Europe, 10 percent of all electricity used by industry is used to produce compressed air, amounting to 80 terawatt hours consumption per year....

.

The modern layout for an ejection seat was first proposed by Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n inventor Anastase Dragomir
Anastase Dragomir
Anastase Dragomir was a distinguished Romanian inventor, most famous for his "catapultable cockpit" patent as an early version of the modern ejection seat....

 in the late 1920s. The design, featuring a parachuted cell (a dischargeable chair from an aircraft or other vehicle), was successfully tested on August 25, 1929 at the Paris-Orly Airport near Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and in October 1929 at Băneasa
Aurel Vlaicu International Airport
-Terminated destinations:-See also:*Aviation in Romania*Transport in Romania*Blue Air-External links:**...

, near Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. Dragomir patented his "catapult-able cockpit" at the French Patent OfficePatent no. 678566, of April 2, 1930, Nouveau système de montage des parachutes dans les appareils de locomotion aérienne

The design was perfected during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Prior to this, the only means of escape from an incapacitated aircraft was to jump clear ("bail-out"),In practice: opening the cockpit hood, inverting the aircraft and falling out. and in many cases this was difficult due to injury, the difficulty of egress from a confined space, g forces
G force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall.It may also refer to:* G-Force , a 2009 film by Disney** G-Force , a 2009 video game based on the film...

, the airflow past the aircraft, and other factors.

The first ejection seats were developed independently during World War II by Heinkel
Heinkel
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

 and SAAB
Saab
Saab AB is a Swedish aerospace and defence company, founded in 1937. From 1947 to 1990 it was the parent company of automobile manufacturer Saab Automobile, and between 1968 and 1995 the company was in a merger with commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania, known as Saab-Scania.-History:"Svenska...

. Early models were powered by compressed air and the first aircraft to be fitted with such a system was the Heinkel He 280
Heinkel He 280
The Heinkel He 280 was the first turbojet-powered fighter aircraft in the world. It was inspired by Ernst Heinkel's emphasis on research into high-speed flight and built on the company's experience with the He 178 jet prototype. A combination of technical and political factors led to it being...

 prototype jet-engined
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

 fighter
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 in 1940. One of the He 280 test pilots, Helmut Schenk, became the first person to escape from a stricken aircraft with an ejection seat on 13 January 1942 after his control surfaces iced up and became inoperable. The fighter, being used in tests of the Argus As 014
Argus As 014
|-See also:*List of aircraft engines*Republic-Ford JB-2 Loon*Ford PJ31*Chelomey D-3-Bibliography:*Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9...

 impulse jets for Fieseler Fi 103 missile development, had its usual HeS 8A turbojets removed, and was towed aloft from Rechlin
Rechlin
Rechlin is a municipality in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. The town's airport has a long history and was the Luftwaffe's main testing ground for new aircraft designs during the Third Reich....

, Germany by a pair of Bf 110C tugs in a heavy snow-shower. At 7875 feet (2,400.3 m), Schenk found he had no control, jettisoned his towline, and ejected. The He 280 was never put into production status and the first operational type to provide ejection seats for the crew was the Heinkel He 219 Uhu
Heinkel He 219
The Heinkel He 219 Uhu was a night fighter that served with the German Luftwaffe in the later stages of World War II. A relatively sophisticated design, the He 219 possessed a variety of innovations, including an advanced VHF-band intercept radar...

 night fighter in 1942.

In Sweden a version using compressed air was tested in 1941. A gunpowder ejection seat was developed by Bofors
Bofors
The name Bofors has been associated with the iron industry for more than 350 years.Located in Karlskoga, Sweden, the company originates from the hammer mill "Boofors" founded 1646. The modern corporate structure was created in 1873 with the foundation of Aktiebolaget Bofors-Gullspång...

 and tested in 1943 for the Saab 21
Saab 21
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Billing, Peter. "A Fork-Tailed Swede." Air Enthusiast Twenty-two, August–November 1983. Bromley, Kent, UK: Pilot Press Ltd., 1983....

. The first test in the air was on a Saab 17
Saab 17
-References:* Jane, Fred T. “The Saab-17.” Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0....

 on 27 February 1944, and the first real use occurred by Lt. Bengt Johanssonwho later changed his name to Järkenstedt on 29 July 1946 after a mid-air collision between a J 21 and a J 22.

In late 1944, the Heinkel He 162
Heinkel He 162
The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger was a German single-engine, jet-powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in World War II. Designed and built quickly, and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and prioritised for other aircraft, the He 162 was nevertheless the fastest of...

 featured a new type of ejection seat, this time fired by an explosive cartridge. In this system the seat rode on wheels set between two pipes running up the back of the cockpit. When lowered into position, caps at the top of the seat fitted over the pipes to close them. Cartridges, basically identical to shotgun
Shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

 shells, were placed in the bottom of the pipes, facing upward. When fired, the gases would fill the pipes, "popping" the caps off the end, and thereby forcing the seat to ride up the pipes on its wheels and out of the aircraft. By the end of the war, the Do-335 Pfeil and a few prototype aircraft were also fitted with ejection seats.

After World War II, the need for such systems became pressing, as aircraft speeds were getting ever higher, and it was not long before the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 was broken. Manual escape at such speeds would be impossible. The United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 experimented with downward-ejecting systems operated by a spring
Spring (device)
A spring is an elastic object used to store mechanical energy. Springs are usually made out of spring steel. Small springs can be wound from pre-hardened stock, while larger ones are made from annealed steel and hardened after fabrication...

, but it was the work of Sir James Martin
James Martin (engineer)
Sir James Martin CBE DSc CEng FIMechE FRAeS was a British engineer and together with Captain Valentine Baker the founder of the Martin-Baker aircraft company which is now a leading producer of aircraft ejection seats....

 and his company Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a manufacturer of ejection seats and safety related equipment for aviation. The company origins were as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats...

 that was to prove crucial.

The first live flight test of the Martin-Baker system took place on 24 July 1946, when fitter Bernard Lynch ejected from a Gloster Meteor Mk III
Gloster Meteor
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

 jet. Shortly afterward, on 17 August 1946, 1st Sgt. Larry Lambert was the first live U.S. ejectee. Lynch demonstrated the ejection seat at the Daily Express Air Pageant in 1948; ejecting from a Meteor. Martin-Baker ejector seats were fitted to prototype and production aircraft from the late 1940s, and the first emergency use of such a seat occurred in 1949 during testing of the jet-powered Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52
Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52
-See also:- External links :*** at *...

 experimental flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

.

Early seats used a solid propellant charge to eject the pilot and seat by igniting the charge inside a telescoping tube attached to the seat. As aircraft speeds increased still further, this method proved inadequate to get the pilot sufficiently clear of the airframe. Increasing the amount of propellant risked damaging the occupant's spine, so experiments with rocket propulsion began. In 1958 the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger was the first aircraft to be fitted with a rocket-propelled seat. Martin-Baker developed a similar design, using multiple rocket units feeding a single nozzle. The greater thrust from this configuration had the advantage of being able to eject the pilot to a safe height even if the aircraft was on or very near the ground.

In the early 1960s, deployment of rocket-powered ejection seats designed for use at supersonic speeds began in such planes as the Convair F-106 Delta Dart. Six pilots have ejected at speeds exceeding 700 knots. The highest altitude at which a Martin-Baker seat was deployed was 57,000 ft (from a Canberra
English Electric Canberra
The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft in 1957...

 bomber in 1958). Following an accident on 30 July 1966 in the attempted launch of a D-21 drone
Lockheed D-21/M-21
The Lockheed D-21 was an American Mach 3+ reconnaissance drone. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of its M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft. Development began in October 1962...

, two Lockheed M-21 crew members ejected at Mach 3.25
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 at an altitude of 80000 ft (24,384 m) The pilot was recovered successfully, however the observer drowned after a water landing. Despite these records, most ejections occur at fairly low speeds and altitudes, when the pilot can see that there is no hope of regaining aircraft control before impact with the ground.

Late in the Vietnam War the USAF and US Navy became concerned about its pilots ejecting over hostile territory and those pilots either being captured or killed and the losses in men and aircraft in attempts to rescue them. As a result both services began studies, for what is and will most likely, remain in aviation history the most unusual combat eject seat type ever researched and designed. Both services began a program titled Air Crew Escape/Rescue Capability or Aerial Escape and Rescue Capability (AERCAB) ejection seats (i.e. both terms have been used by the US military and defence industry), where after the pilot ejected, the ejection seat would fly him to a location far enough away from where he ejected to where he could safely be picked up. A Request for Proposals for concepts for AERCAB ejection seats were issued in the late 1960s. Three companies submitted papers for further development: A Rogallo wing
Rogallo wing
The Rogallo wing is a flexible type of airfoil. In 1948, Gertrude Rogallo, and her husband Francis Rogallo, a NASA engineer, invented a self-inflating flexible wing they called the Parawing, also known after them as the "Rogallo Wing" and flexible wing...

 design by Bell Systems; a gyrocopter
Autogyro
An autogyro , also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust...

 design by Kaman Corporation; and a mini-conventional fixed wing aircraft employing a Princeton Wing (i.e. a wing made of flexible material that rolls out then becomes ridged by means of internal struts or supports etc. deploying) by Fairchild Hiller. All three after ejection would be propelled by small turbojet engine developed for target drones. With the exception of the Kaman design, the pilot would still be required to parachute to the ground after reaching a safety-point for rescue. The AERCAB project was terminated in the 1970s with the end of the Vietnam War. The Kaman design was the only one in early 1972 which was to reach the actual hardware stage and come close to being tested with a special landing gear platform attached to the AERCAB ejection seat for a first stage ground take offs and landings with a test pilot.

Pilot safety


The purpose of an ejection seat is pilot survival. The pilot typically experiences an acceleration of about 12–14 g (117–137 m/s²). Western seats usually impose lighter loads on the pilots; 1960s-70s era Soviet technology often goes up to 20–22 g (with SM-1 and KM-1 gunbarrel-type ejection seats). Compression fracture
Compression fracture
A compression fracture is a collapse of a vertebra. It may be due to trauma or due to a weakened vertebra. This weakening is seen patients with osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta, lytic lesions from metastatic or primary tumors, or infection. In healthy patients it is most often seen in...

s of vertebrae are a recurrent side effect of ejection.

The U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 selected the Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a manufacturer of ejection seats and safety related equipment for aviation. The company origins were as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats...

 seat for the U.S.A.'s new Joint Strike Fighter. The F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals...

 uses a variant of the ACES II
ACES II
ACES II is an ejection seat system manufactured by the Goodrich Corporation. ACES is an acronym for Advanced Concept Ejection Seat. It is used in the A-10, F-15, F-16, F-117A, B-1B, and B-2 aircraft....

 ejection seat. Both JSF and the Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

 use the Mk.16A ejection seat.

The capabilities of the Zvezda K-36 were unintentionally demonstrated at the Fairford Air Show
Royal International Air Tattoo
The Royal International Air Tattoo is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July, usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust...

 on 24 July 1993 when the pilots of two MiG-29
Mikoyan MiG-29
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other...

 fighters ejected after a mid-air collision.

The minimal ejection altitude for ACES II seat in inverted flight is about 140 feet (42.7 m) above ground level at 150 KIAS. While the Russian counterpart - K-36DM has the minimal ejection altitude from inverted flight of 660 feet (201.2 m) AGL.
When an aircraft is equipped with the Zvezda K-36DM ejection seat and the pilot is wearing the КО-15 protective gear, he is able to eject at airspeeds from 0 to 1400 kilometres per hour (869.9 mph) and altitudes of 0 to 25 kilometres (15.5 mi). The K-36DM ejection seat features drag chutes and a small shield that rises between the pilot's legs to deflect air around the pilot.

As of the 21st June 2011, Martin-Baker ejection seats had saved 7,360 lives, with their ejector seats being used across 93 air forces across the world. They give survivors a unique tie and lapel pin. The total figure for all types of ejector seats is unknown, but may be considerably higher.

Egress systems




The "standard" ejection system operates in two stages. First, the entire canopy or hatch above the aviator is opened or jettisoned, and the seat and occupant are launched through the opening. In most earlier aircraft this required two separate actions by the aviator, while later egress system designs, such as the Advanced Concept Ejection Seat model 2 (ACES II), perform both functions as a single action.

The ACES II ejection seat is used in most American-built fighters. The A-10 uses connected firing handles that activate both the canopy jettison systems, followed by the seat ejection. The F-15 has the same connected system as the A-10 seat. Both handles accomplish the same task, so pulling either one suffices. The F-16 has only one handle located between the pilot's knees, since the cockpit is too narrow for side-mounted handles.

Non-standard egress systems include Downward Track (used for some crew positions in bomber aircraft, including the B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

), Canopy Destruct (CD) and Through-Canopy Penetration (TCP), Drag Extraction, Encapsulated Seat, and even Crew Capsule
Escape crew capsule
An escape crew capsule allows a pilot to escape from their craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions such as high speed or altitude...

.

Early models of the F-104 Starfighter
F-104 Starfighter
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic interceptor aircraft originally developed for the United States Air Force by Lockheed. One of the Century Series of aircraft, it served with the USAF from 1958 until 1969, and continued with Air National Guard units...

 were equipped with a Downward Track ejection seat due to the hazard of the T-tail
T-tail
thumb|right|Grob motor gliderA T-tail is an aircraft tail stabilizer configuration in which the horizontal surfaces are mounted to the top of the vertical stabilizer. Traditionally, the horizontal control surfaces are mounted to the fuselage at the base of the vertical stabilizer...

. In order to make this work, the pilot was equipped with "spurs" which were attached to cables that would pull the legs inward so the pilot could be ejected. Following this development, a number of other egress systems began using leg retractors as a way to prevent injuries to flailing legs, and to provide a more stable center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

. Some models of the F-104 were equipped with upward-ejecting seats.

Similarly, two of the six ejection seats on the B-52 Stratofortress fire downward, through hatch openings on the bottom of the aircraft; the downward hatches are released from the aircraft by a thruster that unlocks the hatch, while gravity and wind remove the hatch and arm the seat. The four seats on the forward upper deck (two of them, EWO and Gunner, facing the rear of the airplane) fire upwards as usual. Any such downward-firing system is of no use on or near the ground unless the aircraft is upside-down at the time of the ejection.

Aircraft designed for low-level use sometimes have ejection seats which fire through the canopy, as waiting for the canopy to be ejected is too slow. Many aircraft types (e.g., the BAe Hawk
BAE Hawk
The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, advanced jet trainer aircraft. It first flew in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk. The Hawk is used by the Royal Air Force, and other air forces, as either a trainer or a low-cost combat aircraft...

 and the Harrier
Harrier Jump Jet
The Harrier, informally referred to as the Jump Jet, is a family of British-designed military jet aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing operations...

 line of aircraft) use Canopy Destruct systems, which have an explosive cord (MDC - Miniature Detonation Cord or FLSC - Flexible Linear Shaped Charge) embedded within the acrylic plastic of the canopy. The MDC is initiated when the eject handle is pulled, and shatters the canopy over the seat a few milliseconds before the seat is launched. This system was developed for the Hawker Siddeley Harrier family of VTOL
VTOL
A vertical take-off and landing aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors...

 aircraft as ejection may be necessary while the aircraft was in the hover, and jettisoning the canopy might result in the pilot and seat striking it.
Through-Canopy Penetration is similar to Canopy Destruct, but a sharp spike on the top of the seat, known as the "shell tooth," strikes the underside of the canopy and shatters it. The A-10 Thunderbolt II is equipped with canopy breakers on either side of its headrest in the event that the canopy fails to jettison. In ground emergencies, a ground crewman or pilot can use a breaker knife attached to the inside of the canopy to shatter the transparency. The A-6 Intruder and EA-6 Prowler seats are capable of ejecting through the canopy, with canopy jettison a separate option if there is enough time.

CD and TCP systems cannot be used with canopies made of flexible materials, such as the Lexan
Lexan
Lexan is a registered trademark for SABIC Innovative Plastics' brand of polycarbonate resin thermoplastic. Polycarbonate polymer is produced by reacting bisphenol A with carbonyl dichloride, also known as phosgene. Lexan is the brand name for polycarbonate sheet and resin in a wide range of grades...

 polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 canopy used on the F-16.

Soviet Yakovlev Yak-38
Yakovlev Yak-38
The Yakovlev Yak-38 was Soviet Naval Aviation's first and only operational VTOL strike fighter aircraft, in addition to being its first operational carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft...

 VTOL
VTOL
A vertical take-off and landing aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors...

 naval fighter planes were equipped with automatically activated ejection seats, mandated by the notorious unreliability of their vertical lifting powerplants.

Drag Extraction is the lightest and simplest egress system available, and has been used on many experimental aircraft. Halfway between simply "bailing out" and using explosive-eject systems, Drag Extraction uses the airflow past the aircraft (or spacecraft) to move the aviator out of the cockpit and away from the stricken craft on a guide rail. Some operate like a standard ejector seat, by jettisoning the canopy, then deploying a drag chute into the airflow. That chute pulls the occupant out of the aircraft, either with the seat or following release of the seat straps, who then rides off the end of a rail extending far enough out to help clear the structure. In the case of the Space Shuttle, the astronauts ride a long, curved rail, blown by the wind against their bodies, then deploy their chutes after free-falling to a safe altitude.
Encapsulated Seat
Escape crew capsule
An escape crew capsule allows a pilot to escape from their craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions such as high speed or altitude...

 egress systems were developed for use in the B-58 Hustler
B-58 Hustler
The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was designed by Convair engineer Robert H. Widmer and developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command during the 1960s...

 and B-70 Valkyrie supersonic bombers. These seats were enclosed in an air-operated clamshell, which permitted the aircrew to escape at airspeeds high enough to cause bodily harm. These seats were designed to allow the pilot to control the plane even with the clamshell closed, and the capsule would float in case of water landings.

Some aircraft designs, such as the General Dynamics F-111
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

, do not have individual ejection seats, but instead, the entire section of the airframe containing the crew can be ejected as a single capsule. In this system, very powerful rockets are used, and multiple large parachutes are used to bring the capsule down, in a manner very similar to the Launch Escape System of the Apollo spacecraft. On landing, an airbag
Airbag
An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

 system is used to cushion the landing, and this also acts as a flotation device if the Crew Capsule lands in water.

Zero-zero ejection seat


A zero-zero ejection seat is designed to safely extract upward and land its occupant from a grounded stationary position (i.e., zero altitude
Altitude
Altitude or height is defined based on the context in which it is used . As a general definition, altitude is a distance measurement, usually in the vertical or "up" direction, between a reference datum and a point or object. The reference datum also often varies according to the context...

 and zero airspeed
Airspeed
Airspeed is the speed of an aircraft relative to the air. Among the common conventions for qualifying airspeed are: indicated airspeed , calibrated airspeed , true airspeed , equivalent airspeed and density airspeed....

), specifically from aircraft cockpits. The zero-zero capability was developed to help aircrews escape upward from unrecoverable emergencies during low-altitude and/or low-speed flight, as well as ground mishaps. Before this capability, ejections could only be performed above minimum altitudes and airspeeds.

Zero-zero technology uses small rockets to propel the seat upward to an adequate altitude and a small explosive charge to open the parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

 canopy quickly for a successful parachute descent, so that reliance on airspeed and altitude is no longer required for proper deployment of the parachute.

Other aircraft


The Kamov Ka-50
Kamov Ka-50
The Kamov Ka-50 "Black Shark" is a single-seat Russian attack helicopter with the distinctive coaxial rotor system of the Kamov design bureau. It was designed in the 1980s and adopted for service in the Russian army in 1995...

, which entered service with Russian forces in 1995, was the first production helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 to be fitted with an ejection seat. The system is very similar to that of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft; the main rotors
Helicopter rotor
A helicopter main rotor or rotor system is a type of fan that is used to generate both the aerodynamic lift force that supports the weight of the helicopter, and thrust which counteracts aerodynamic drag in forward flight...

 are equipped with explosive bolts and are designed to release the blades moments before the seat rocket is fired.

Prototype #9 (s/n 66-8834) of the AH-56 Cheyenne
AH-56 Cheyenne
The Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne was a single-engine attack helicopter developed by Lockheed for the United States Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System program to produce the Army's first dedicated attack helicopter...

 was fitted with downward firing ejection seats in 1970 after a fatal testing accident the previous year.

The Lunar Lander Research Vehicle (LLRV)/Training Vehicle (LLTV)
Lunar Landing Research Vehicle
The Bell Aerosystems Lunar Landing Research Vehicle was an Apollo Project era program to build a simulator for the Moon landings. The LLRVs, humorously referred to as "flying bedsteads", were used by the FRC, now known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base,...

 used ejection seats. Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 ejected on 6 May 1968; Joe Algranti & Stuart M. Present, later.

Early flights of the NASA's
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 were with a crew of two, both provided with ejector seats, (STS-1 to STS-4), but the seats were disabled and then removed as the crew size was increased.

The Soviet shuttle "Buran
Shuttle Buran
The Buran spacecraft , GRAU index 11F35 K1 was a Russian orbital vehicle analogous in function and design to the US Space Shuttle and developed by Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy of Energia rocket corporation...

" was planned to be fitted with K-36RB (K-36M-11F35) seats, but it was unmanned on its single flight; the seats were never installed.

The only spacecraft ever flown with installed ejection seats are the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

, the Soviet Vostok and American Gemini
Project Gemini
Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program of NASA, the civilian space agency of the United States government. Project Gemini was conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo, with ten manned flights occurring in 1965 and 1966....

 series. During the Vostok program, all the returning cosmonauts would eject as their capsule descended under parachutes at about 7,000 m (23,000 ft). This fact was kept secret for many years as the FAI
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

rules at the time required that a pilot must land with the spacecraft for the purposes of FAI record books.

External links