Experiments

Killer Brace Position

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Killer Brace Position"
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Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: It actually costs airlines less money if passengers die — rather than sustain long-term injuries — in plane crashes. According to MythBusters' calculations, wrongful-death settlements can cost anywhere from $3 million to $40 million less than does footing the bill for lifetime rehabilitation.

Maybe for that reason, a theory began circulating that the brace-impact position that passengers are supposed to assume in the event of a crash is actually meant to kill them, not save their necks.

MythBusters Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara put their dummy Buster through a series of simulated plane crashes to see if that myth would survive. They bought airline seats and built a mini plane cabin to suspend from a crane. Then they dropped the cabin 15 feet (4.6 meters) to see how Buster fared sitting upright versus in the brace position. From that height, Buster hit the ground with about 21 g-force units of impact.

Although the ShockWatch stickers on Buster's body showed that he would've made it out alive in either position, his body absorbed more of the impact while sitting upright than in the brace position. Sitting in the brace position channels the crash force from your body to the chair in front of you. That explains why the Federal Aviation Agency claims it's statistically three times safer to brace for an airplane wreck than to remain upright.

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