Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey, Air Canada Must Be Using Conservative Lawyers

Apparently, it is legal for Canadian airlines to fly people over water without life vests as long as they stay within 50 miles of a shoreline. Who knew? You just got to love an airline that follows the letter of the law in order to save a few bucks on fuel costs. Remember if you are boarding a Jazz flight with your children, teach them to swim 50 miles first.
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  1. The reason for the fifty mile limit is that this is the distance the aircraft can normally glide from cruising altitude with no engines operating. The time the aircraft is over water, let alone anywhere near 50 miles off shore is negligible.
    Fifty pounds weight saving translates into about 4 pounds per hour fuel saving. That is about 44 pounds per day (11 hours flight time). This is about 7.3 US Gallons or about 28 litres.
    With about 60 aircraft, that is 1,680 litres saving per day, or 613,200 litres per year. Almost a million dollar saving in fuel.
    So, money savings plus environmental benefits, all by eliminating an item that historically serves no purpose. US Air does not even carry them on their Airbus A320 aircraft (a 125 seater).
    After my initial surprise, some research proved this was not such a bad decision. In one of the few accidents where people really had a chance to don the vests before the crash, more people drowned by inflating them inside the cabin during the panic than the vests actually helped! (See Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961).
    Aircraft that spend extensive periods of time over water should carry life jackets. Jazz does not appear to fall in this category.

  2. Thanks for the explanation, but we have just lived through a lesson in what can happen if we dump safety precautions in the name of saving a buck.