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A civilian passenger ejected from a two-seat Rafale B during takeoff on Mar 20 2019. The investigation is underway as to how it happened, but one of the possibilities discussed is that the passenger accidentally pulled the ejection handle.

Having sat in various military aircraft over the years, I never thought it would be easy to accidentally pull the eject handle.

Is the ejection handle on a Rafale B easier to pull than most fighter jets, or closer to the hands' resting position?

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Believe I remember reading in Scott O'Grady's book that the pull handle in the F-16 required 35lbs of pressure, which he considered to be a lot, but how easy he found it to pull when the time actually came. That I think is the ACES II system, where the Rafale is an MB MK16 one. I would guess the pressures are pretty universal.

MK16 ejection seat for Rafale

There's a little light reading about ejection seats, though no specs on the pull pressure required. Also has a ton of info. Little clunky to navigate, but good.

As to how a civilian could pull a handle accidentally... I guess throw someone into a jet, pull a half dozen Gs and watch them grab for something. Most tandem aircraft have split ejection "options", for lack of a better term, meaning the RIO/FO/passenger can punch himself out, but leave the pilot inside. Gotta be a hell of a surprise when the back seater disappears like that.

Likewise, I've seen and heard of numerous cases of canopies being blown accidentally without an actual ejection. Had an F-15C I was working on do it one afternoon in FL.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've dropped in an image from the martin baker site. Thanks for the link. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Mar 22 '19 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ There´s a good writeup about an F-14 (acting) RIO who ejected himself because the handle was the first thing grabbed when the pilot went inverted. The backseater was military too, just wasn´t used to flying and the maneuver caught him not knowing what to do. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Mar 22 '19 at 18:44
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    $\begingroup$ For reference, in this case; the rafale fleet is grounded because the ejection was setup to eject both, but the pilot was not ejected. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Apr 11 '19 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryAlsop I've corrected the image; yours was the one for the Eurofighter instead of the Rafale. $\endgroup$ – SQB Apr 14 '20 at 9:54

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