The U.S. Air Force has relied for many years on a system called the Advanced Concept Ejection Seat II (ACES II) to provide pilots with a quick escape from their doomed planes. It’s an impressive piece of equipment that can automatically adjust its performance to the speed of the aircraft and the weight of the pilot. Only 1% of users have experienced back injuries, compared to up to 40% of those using other systems. But now the House Armed Services Committee says there’s a problem: ACES II was designed and installed before pilots began wearing advanced headgear like night-vision goggles and helmet-mounted displays. That gear can disintegrate during high-speed ejections, exposing pilots to fatal injuries. The committee has added money to the fiscal 2015 budget request for a program aimed at correcting the problem. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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