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Airplane seats should face backwards.

I don't know whether this would actually be any help to crash victims, but the idea seems worth mentioning. The title is the summary, here.
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The idea is that you design the seats to crumple up and reduce impulse. The passenger is in contact with the seat throughout the impact, and the seat suffers some of the damage the passenger would otherwise have suffered.

Head injuries due to rotations at high speed are probably the area in which the greatest potential lifesaving effects could be achieved. If the head rest caught the head as it hit back into the seat, and kept it from rotating, you wouldn't get the spiral tears that damage brains that spin around inside their casings during high-speed car crashes. You'd rather break a bone or two, and rupture your liver than have your brain turn into a Swiss roll by corkscrewing. You might get the kinds of brain injuries that happen in an assault (matching bruises on the impact and opposite sides, basically), but these are at least treatable.

Where you might lose is in not having a chairback close to you when all the loose things people who refuse to understand physics tend to leave lying around in aircraft (or cars) start flying around.

I suppose this could be made moot by jet liner airbags? But that's another idea.

skoomphemph, Sep 12 2014

rear facing seats https://www.google....SVMCsKOGq8weo9ICYAg
[xenzag, Sep 12 2014]

Mythbusters http://kwc.org/myth...er_brace_posit.html
I think this is the episode you were thinking of. [MechE, Sep 12 2014]

[link]






       Totally baked on military aircraft, and posted here on several occasions.
xenzag, Sep 12 2014
  

       Yup - WKTE, [suggested-for-deletion]
8th of 7, Sep 12 2014
  

       In cars it was baked in the Spectrum Persuit Vehicle driven by Captain Scarlet
bs0u0155, Sep 12 2014
  

       Does that include the pilot's seats?
not_morrison_rm, Sep 12 2014
  

       The pilots wouldn't beable to see out of the windows! wait, lets just make the rest of the plane face backwards too. Then it could take off, land and cruise backwards, with everyone facing in the direction of travel.
bs0u0155, Sep 12 2014
  

       The passengers should sit in seats upside down hanging from the ceiling so if the plane ever flips over there will be a sense of normalcy.
rcarty, Sep 12 2014
  

       ..KE is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, since there isn't a passenger airline on Earth that looks tailwards (and since military aircraft deal with crashes by ejecting - unless you're in a C130, in which case you just bounce off the walls and the cargo (and it bounces off you) until you're very dead - er.. since military rearward seats are more about shoehorning, and observation than about surviving a crash, that use case is somewhat different). Actually the seating on transporters would cause most passengers to complain very loudly to the stewardess, if they could just find her. No real cushions. No real chair back.   

       That said, it's a fairly straightforward idea, so it would be surprising if it hasn't come up before.   

       I'd imagine that even if it did save lives in crashes, it would be really difficult to get airliners to adopt the idea, simply because people have expected to face the horse's head instead of his arse for about 15 000 years, and we all know how much people generally detest changes that "put things back to front".   

       Still, I'd be interested to know whether having a crumple zone would improve one's survival chances or not.
skoomphemph, Sep 12 2014
  

       I think they tested backward facing seats on Mythbusters. Can't find it though.
bs0u0155, Sep 12 2014
  

       //I'd be interested to know whether having a crumple zone would improve one's survival chances or not.//   

       Most long-haul flights have an extensive crumple zone known as "economy", but for some inexplicable reason it is only designed to work if the plane reverses into something.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 12 2014
  

       heh, got upgraded on the last conference trip. Boss back in cattle class. Spent the entire trip thinking up the most obnoxious thing to say, best I could come up with "it's not so great, the air pressure really messes with the fizz in your champagne."
bs0u0155, Sep 12 2014
  

       On trains, passengers seem to have little or no concern about the direction their seat faces; just getting a seat is enough of a triumph ...   

       // military aircraft deal with crashes by ejecting //   

       Military pilots deal with crashes by ejecting ...   

       // unless you're in a C130, in which case you just bounce off the walls and the cargo (and it bounces off you) until you're very dead - er.. //   

       That depends a lot on the failure mode. C-130's are pretty tough. And there's lots of webbing and things to hang on to, soft strip capability, and with the high wing a gear-up landing is very survivable.   

       // Actually the seating on transporters would cause most passengers to complain very loudly to the stewardess, if they could just find her. No real cushions. No real chair back. //   

       Yes, just try complaining to the loadmaster that the coffee's cold, or you want an extra pillow ... try to make sure you collect all your teeth before he throws you out of the back door ...
8th of 7, Sep 12 2014
  

       You can have a bit of a lay down, the view out of the rear bathroom is is without equal.
bs0u0155, Sep 12 2014
  

       So if the seats faced backwards they could put 4th class toward the former front of the plane and march everyone in from the rear (so as to ensure the full effect of the free advertising the first class passengers give by sprawling in their seats and smirking at as many of the passing bovines as possible. It wouldn't do to have everyone walk past the backs of first class when being herded in).   

       But then the airlines might as well trade in their Airbuses and so on for proper C130's, shirley? These come designed to ship most of the passenger cargo from the back.   

       And if that's the case, I suppose it wouldn't matter which way round the seats faced. The standing passengers would have to simply lash themselves to whatever fixtures were convenient, and hope not to suffer too badly from oxygen deprivation every time someone in first class asked the concierge to have the hatch opened for another look outside.
skoomphemph, Sep 12 2014
  

       I could have sworn we had done this one before, but I can't find it, except for reversing seats which was more intended to ease the shock of landing.
MechE, Sep 12 2014
  

       So school buses should be driven backwards? No seat belts on School buses in USA.
popbottle, Sep 14 2014
  

       Not necessary, as school buses in the USA (and most other places) rarely seem to exceed 30 km/h.
8th of 7, Sep 14 2014
  

       [+] backwards face should seats airplane
pashute, Sep 14 2014
  
      
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