Almost since the first days of flight man has been concerned with the safe escape from an aircraft which was no longer flyable. Early escape equipment consisted of a recovery parachute only. As aircraft performance rapidly increased during World War II, it became necessary to assist the crewmen in gaining clear safe separation from the aircraft.
This was accomplished with an ejector seat which was powered by a propellant driven catapult - the first use of a propulsive element in aircrew escape. Since then, this collection of componentry has evolved through several generations into today's relatively complex systems which are highly dependent upon propulsive elements. Ejection seats are one of the most complex pieces of equipment on any aircraft, and some consist of thousands of parts. The purpose of the ejection seat is simple: To lift the pilot straight out of the aircraft to a safe distance, then deploy a parachute to allow the pilot to land safely on the ground.
To understand how an ejection seat works, you must first be familiar with the basic components in any ejection system. Everything has to perform properly in a split second and in a specific sequence to save a
pilot's life. If just one piece of critical equipment malfunctions, it could be fatal. Like any seat, the ejection seat's basic anatomy consists of the bucket, back and headrest. Everything else is built around these main
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