Today the NTSB announced that it is considering aerospace applications for air bags and shoulder belts for GA aircraft ranging from single-engine propeller planes, to biz jets and helicopters. The category includes all aircraft except scheduled airline service and military aircraft.
The board is due to release a study of 138 accidents involving GA planes in which air bags were critical to the survival of the pilot or passengers.
Currently, AmSafe is the only U.S. maker of air bags for planes. The company has documented 20 cases over the past several years in which air bags were important to the survival of GA pilots and passengers.
Several years ago Goodrich Corporation was involved in developing an easy to retrofit, inflatable seatbelt and got some traction for use in crop dusting planes. However, eventually they abandoned the product line.
Most new general aviation planes sold today have both lap-shoulder belts and air bags. But NTSB officials say that accounts for only about 7,000 planes out of more than 200,000 GA planes registered in the U.S.