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Stress Proof Seat Belts

September 12, 2012

On a recent flight from London to Sydney, Human Factors Expert Menno Boermans noticed something special. The seatbelts of the Quantas A380 are different than normally encountered in airplanes. In stead of the buckle where you need to lift a flap, in the A380 you open the belt by pushing a button: just like you do with seatbelts in a car.

“Interesting”, Boermans says. “It looks like at Airbus they had Human Factors in mind when designing the plane. It is known and proven that in emergency situations people tend to react without thinking. As stress levels in the body rise, the brain shuts down (or if you like; gears up) to safe your sole. In this so called ‘fight or flight’ situation you act on automatisms. Without being fully conscious you do things you learned in your life by earlier experiences. This comes in handy, because often there is no time to analyse the situation. As most people drive cars, it is more likely that in an emergency situation you will be able to open a seatbelt, when it is designed like the one you are using on an everyday basis”.

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