MENASASI Middle East and North Africa Society of Air Safety Investigators

CASA: Cabin Safety Bulletin No. 6

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Cabin Safety Bulletin No.6 - Brace positions

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/cabin-safety-bulletin-no6-brace-positions

Who does this bulletin apply to?

This bulletin applies to all Australian air operators.

What is the purpose of this bulletin?

To highlight to operators the importance of assuming an appropriate brace position and provide guidance associated with recommended brace-for-impact positions for both passengers and crew.

Background

Passenger survival rates are improved when they are informed about the correct use of equipment and the actions they should take in the event of an emergency, such as how to assume an appropriate brace for impact position.

The brace position has been determined to be the most effective protective position for passengers and crew to adopt to mitigate the potential for injury during impact.

Research has led to the determination that as seat technology has evolved, the most effective brace position has as well, and that previous recommended positions may need some adjustment to provide an equivalent level of safety for all passengers.

Research

Historical data in the ICAO Accident/Incident Data Reporting System (ADREP) identify that most of accidents are survivable.

Since the 1960s, research has been conducted on brace positions, using anthropomorphic dummies in a series of sled- impact tests. The aim of such research has been to determine the most beneficial passenger brace position in forward-facing, economy-type aircraft seats.

Although extensive research has been conducted; no single brace position has yet been determined due to great variation in passenger characteristics and abilities, in-seat class characteristics, seat pitch, and direction of travel (some seats face forward, others are angled or face rearwards). Other variables include restraint design and airbags, and experimental testing protocols.

Results from internationally recognised research studies on brace positions were used to provide guidance regarding the brace positions presented in this bulletin.

Why is it so important to BRACE?

The “brace for impact” position is an action where a person pre-positions his/her body against whatever he/she is most likely to be thrown against, and which may significantly reduce injuries sustained.

The brace position serves two purposes:

  1. it reduces flailing by having the forward-facing occupant flex, bend, or lean forward over his/her legs in some manner
  2. it reduces secondary-impact injuries by pre-positioning the body, predominantly the head, against the surface that it would otherwise strike during that secondary impact, thus reducing the momentum of the head and other parts of the body.

The most appropriate brace position may vary according to seat orientation, seat belt installation (e.g. shoulder harness, airbag) or cabin configuration.

Brace positions

ICAO has worked closely with the International Board for Research into Aircraft Crash Evaluation (IBRACE), a group composed of subject matter experts involved in the testing of brace positions, either from an engineering or medical perspective.

Some of the following guidance material examples for brace positions are based solely on the positions tested. Other recommendations are based on interpretation and opinion of the subject matter experts (SMEs) involved in the testing.

What brace position should cabin crew adopt?

Cabin crew occupying a single or double cabin crew seat (commonly referred to as a jump seat) should adopt a brace position based on the orientation of the seat.

They should not conduct any other duties while in the brace position, to avoid distractions. Cabin crew should be alert and immediately available to respond to a situation that may arise. They should remain in the brace position until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.

Forward-facing cabin crew seat example

In a forward-facing jump seat, cabin crew should brace according to the following

instructions, as shown in Figure 6-1:

  1. slide back in the seat as far as possible towards the backrest; ensuring that upper and lower back is against the backrest
  2. securely fasten seat belt and shoulder harness:
    • tighten firmly
    • seat belt and harness straps must not be twisted
    • when tightening the shoulder harness, make sure that the seat belt (lap strap) remains low across the hips and that the buckle is positioned correctly, as per manufacturer instructions
  3. place chin on chest
  4. rest hands on thighs
  5. place feet and legs slightly apart
  6. if there is no bulkhead within forward reach, keep feet flat on floor and stretch out legs as far as possible
  7. if there is a bulkhead within forward reach, keep feet flat on floor and slide them forward until the tips of the toes touch the bulkhead (do no push feet against the bulkhead).

Figure 6-1: Brace position in forward-facing cabin crew seats, without and with a bulkhead

image showing brace position in forward-facing cabin crew seats, without and with a bulkhead

Source – ICAO Doc 10086 Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety

Rearward-facing cabin crew seats example

Cabin crew members should brace according to the following instructions, as shown in Figure 6-2:

  1. Slide back in the seat as far as possible towards the backrest; ensuring that upper and lower back is against the backrest.
  2. Securely fasten seat belt and shoulder harness:
    • tighten firmly
    • seat belt and harness straps must not be twisted
    • when tightening the shoulder harness, make sure that the seat belt (lap strap) remains low across the hips and that the buckle is positioned correctly, as per manufacturer instructions.
  3. Lean back and keep head against the backrest/headrest
  4. Cross arms in front of the chest (do not hold the shoulder harness straps)
  5. Place feet and legs slightly apart
  6. Place feet flat on the floor
  7. Keep knees bent at 90 degrees to reduce the risk of injury to the legs and heels which will move in the direction of the deceleration.

Figure 6-2: Brace position in rearward-facing cabin crew seats, without and with a bulkhead

image showing brace position in rearward-facing cabin crew seats, without and with a bulkhead

Source – ICAO Doc 10086 Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety

What brace position should passengers adopt?

Passengers should remain in the brace position until the aircraft comes to a complete stop or until directed by the cabin crew to evacuate the aircraft.

It should be noted that the guidance material regarding the brace positions in this bulletin are designed for aeroplanes in forward-facing, economy-type aircraft seats with a lap strap seatbelt only. They are not suitable for helicopter operations as crash dynamics differ significantly between fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Forward-facing passenger seats equipped with a lap strap seat belt only example

In a forward-facing passenger seat fitted with a lap strap seat belt only, consideration should be given for passengers to brace according to the following instructions, as shown in Figure 6-3:

  1. sit as far back as possible
  2. fasten seat belt and tighten firmly (low across the hips to prevent submarining - when a passenger slides forward under a loosely fitted seat belt. The seat belt should not be twisted)
  3. tuck chin onto chest
  4. bend forward (“roll up into a ball”)
  5. place head against the seat in front
  6. place hands on top of head
  7. place arms at sides of lower legs or hold lower legs (holding onto the lower legs may provide a more stable position)
  8. place feet flat on the floor, as far back as possible
  9. if passengers are seated at a bulkhead row or cannot reach the seat in front:
    • bend forward and place hands on top of head
    • bend forward and place arms at sides of lower legs or hold lower legs.

Figure 6-3: Brace positions in forward-facing passenger seats equipped with a lap strap seat belt only

image showing brace positions in forward-facing passenger seats equipped with a lap strap seat belt only

Source – ICAO Doc 10086 Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety

What not to do

Some brace positions are undesirable as they increase the risk of injury to people occupying a forward-facing passenger seat.

Based on medical SMEs interpretation and opinion, when adopting the brace position, passengers should avoid certain positions as outlined in figure 6-4 that may cause injury to the neck and/or larynx. In addition, passengers should refrain from resting their head on crossed forearms or their hands, which risks fracturing both forearms and/or both hands and fingers.

Figure 6-4: Positions to avoid when adopting the brace position

image showing positions to avoid when adopting the brace position

Source – ICAO Doc 10086 Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety

Other positions to avoid based on the results of sled-impact tests, examinations of survivors and victims of crashes, medical and engineering SMEs’ interpretations and opinions, as shown in Figure 6-5 include:

  • to remain in an upright position, without prepositioning the body, predominantly the head, against the surface it would strike during the secondary impact
  • to avoid passengers stretching out their arms or legs and pressing them against a surface in front of them
  • passengers should also refrain from trying to physically restrain a child or another passenger in an adjacent seat or assisting another person in maintaining a brace position, as this may increase the risk of injury.

Figure 6-5: Examples of unacceptable brace positions

image showing examples of unacceptable brace positions

Source – ICAO Doc 10086 Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety

What about infants and children?

ICAO recommendations found in the ICAO Manual on the Approval and Use of Child Restraint Systems (Doc 10049) states, infants and children whose weight is less than 26 kg (60 lbs) and whose height is less than 125 cm (49 in) should occupy an approved child restraint system (CRS) on board aircraft, in a seat of their own.

The use of CRS provides an equivalent level of safety to infants and children as that afforded to adult passengers wearing seat belts. Children who are occupying approved child restraint devices should be braced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Generally, children occupying a passenger seats should utilize the same brace position as adults as appropriate to their height.

Adults holding infants should provide as uniform support as possible to the infant's head, neck, and body, to minimize the possibility of injury due to flailing.

Consideration for persons with disabilities and companions

People with disabilities may use a passenger seat belt and an approved restraint system depending on their individual needs.

Able-bodied people or companions accompanying people with disabilities should adopt an appropriate brace position and refrain from assisting the person with disabilities until the evacuation starts. At that time, the companion should follow the instructions given by the cabin crew, as part of the individual safety briefing given prior to the flight.

Additional resources

This section presents existing guidance material developed by States, which can be used to determine brace positions for passengers and cabin crew members. This guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. ICAO - Manual on Information and Instructions for Passenger Safety (Doc 10086)
  2. Canada: Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) Advisory Circular TCCA AC 700-036 Issue 1 – Brace for Impact Positions for all Aircraft Occupants
  3. United States: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular AC 121-24D – Passenger Safety Information Briefing and Briefing Cards
  4. ICAO -Manual on the Approval and Use of Child Restraint Systems (Doc 10049)
  5. CASA – CAAP 235-2(2) Carriage and Restraint of small children in aircraft.

Further information

View the cabin safety pages.