History of Commercial Aircraft Cabin Safety Protocols

History was made when the Wright Brothers took flight in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Although it barely lasted a minute, their ascent toward the sky changed the course of human history and has led to a booming industry of accessible and affordable air travel.

As triumphant as the Wright Brothers’ success was, early air travel was no stranger to tragedies. During a demonstration for the U.S. Army in 1908, Orville Wright’s plane crashed, resulting in the death of their passenger and friend, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge.

People understand on an innate level that flying 40,000 feet up in the sky at 180 mph can potentially result in tragic outcomes if things don’t go as planned. The industry recognizes there’s no room for error and has long made safety its highest priority – with sterling results. Air travel is by far the safest form of travel according to a host of different metrics.

That exceptional safety record wasn’t easy to establish, and it takes work to maintain. Aircraft safety truly is a team effort, and there’s a variety of people and systems involved with ensuring it continues.

Aircraft Cabin Safety Protocol History

There were modest improvements in cabin safety during World War I with the introduction of air-to-ground communication (first with telegraphy followed soon after by two-way radio) and seatbelts – although the latter was utilized more for turbulence rather than crash safety.

The outbreak of World War II spurred substantial new advancements in aviation technology that molded the safety measures we’re familiar with today. War efforts paved the way for innovations like pressurized cabins and improved navigation systems to make flying safer, which was quickly adopted by commercial aviation after the war.

The 1950s and 1960s marked the start of the jet age with the advent of jet turbine engines that made air travel more efficient as well as accessible to a broader swath of travelers. This era also introduced commercial jetliners like the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

While these aircraft revolutionized commercial air travel with increased speed and capacity, their proliferation created some new safety concerns, which led to the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the 1960s. The FAA introduced safety regulations regarding cabin design and instituted rigorous safety inspections. They also improved many safety procedures, including emergency oxygen systems, fire suppression technology and evacuation protocols.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the industry continued to improve passenger safety by revamping cabins with fire-resistant seats and materials. Meanwhile, commercial airlines were imagining how to make passengers feel more at home in the sky. They installed in-flight entertainment systems in their cabins, such as cathode-ray tube projectors and video cassettes.

What Does the Future Hold for Aircraft Cabin Safety?

Today, commercial aircraft are equipped with the latest safety features and technology for added protection and peace of mind. Fire detection systems have become more sensitive with improved algorithms that allow them to quickly identify and respond to potential hazards. Cabin materials are both lightweight and fire-resistant to improve safety and increase fuel efficiency, and airlines have created more intuitive escape paths for passengers in case evacuation becomes necessary.

In the near future, biometrics such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning might be utilized by TSA to increase the speed and convenience of boarding without sacrificing security. Even VR technology is being explored as a teaching tool to help crew members practice emergency response skills in virtually simulated scenarios.

Future aircraft cabins may also soon incorporate more passenger-centric customizations that can be controlled with a single tap on a smartphone. Smartphones have already been inseparably integrated into the inflight entertainment offered by most airlines, but some are going further with apps that can track luggage, adjust seat backs or customize the cabin environment.

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At Rosen Aviation, we have outfitted aircrafts with the latest in-flight technology for over 40 years, keeping pace with the fast-growing tech landscape. Make every flight your passengers take safe and comfortable with our lauded IFE displays. To learn more about how we can upgrade your aircraft for the modern flyer’s convenience, call us at 1-888-668-4955 or complete our online contact form today.