I was watching this video about the test flight escape systems on a Bombardier flight. In the video, this machine is shown:

enter image description here

The yellow box moves up and down in the video. Does it move up and flip the airman over, mashing their feet? Or does it shoot down out of the airplane and create a hole to jump out of? If it's the latter, why are they sitting instead of standing?

  • $\begingroup$ I was wondering the same thing when I watched the video. :) I never got why it was resting against the ceiling before they activated it. $\endgroup$ – falstro Jul 17 '14 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ My interpretation was that the yellow object seen in the photo is a cover and the orange object seen in the video (but not the photo) is a chute, which, having been lowered, now extends below the bottom of the aircraft. With the yellow cover removed, the crew member could push off the thing he's sat on, aided by the yellow hand-hold, and drop down the chute out of the plane. However, this is just my guess about how it works so I'm posting it as a comment, which I'll delete if something more authoritative is posted. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 17 '14 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ What it looks like to me, is in it's non-deployed configuration, the escape shaft is up inside the plane, and the top of the shaft is covered with the large yellow cover. When they deploy it, the shaft is lowered (either gravity, or hydrolic, or maybe sprung) through a door in the bottom of the fuselage, and the yellow cover would be removed. each engineer would sit down, snap their chute handle to the bar, and drop through the shaft. The chute would be opened (or they could do it manually) and they'd come out safely below the plane. In the training, of course, they're not uncovering it. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Jul 17 '14 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ Then why does it move up and down @CGCampbell? I haven't been able to figure that out, although your explanation does sound very plausible. $\endgroup$ – Undo Jul 17 '14 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Undo I assume that, when it's up, it's completely inside the aircraft and, when it's down, it pokes down below the fuselage. Presumably, in a real evacuation, they'd move it down once and then all jump out; when training, everyone needs to be familiar with the deployment procedure because anyone might be the first to get to the chute. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 18 '14 at 0:29

Qualification: I am an FAA master parachute rigger and taught sport skydiving for 10 years.

Most of the comments on the question are correct - the red slide will extend below the airplane and act as a wind buffer so you can clear the fuselage before the wind blast hits you. The yellow part is a cap that would be removed.

No one would clip a static line to the plane in an evacuation - you want to be well clear of the airplane before opening your own chute. The blue packs are the real thing, I've packed plenty of them. There's a 26-foot round parachute inside. Rough landing but usable by anyone with very little training.

How usable this contraption would be is a different question - skydiving is done at about 100 knots, well below the speed of jets. And it also requires a stable aircraft - if that plane loses it's tail and starts to spin no one will be using the escape slide simply because it will be impossible to reach it. The "bail out in the event of emergency" concept is a bit flawed - if the airplane is flying well enough to bail out then you don't need to. There's a very good reason the military spends a fortune on ejection seats.

Side note - the Space Shuttle had a crew escape process, but NASA considered landing a shuttle on anything other than a proper runway to be non-survivable.

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  • $\begingroup$ In WWII there were no ejection seats yet, so success rate of egress of bomber crews (who bailed out through bomb bay door) seems like it would be relevant indicator of practical limits of such system. I don't know any numbers though. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jul 18 '14 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ Bomb bays are a great way to exit an aircraft! More than one event has hired something like a B-29. The bomb bay is also more-or-less at the aircraft's center of gravity, reducing (but not eliminating) the spin factor. However, there were plenty of WWII aircrews who did not manage to bail out. $\endgroup$ – paul Jul 18 '14 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ WWII bombers were designed for crew to be able to escape if the aircraft was out of control, there were hatches designed in for that purpose and there are many cases where they were successfully used. WWII bomber speeds were far less than modern jets as well, making escape easier. $\endgroup$ – GdD Aug 27 '14 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ Re: the "flawed" concept: There are plenty of situations where an airplane is flyable, but not (safely) landable. For an extreme example, UA232 at Sioux City. $\endgroup$ – falstro Aug 27 '14 at 13:53

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