Accession Number:



Inflatable Emergency Equipment I: Evaluation of Individual Inflatable Aviation Life Preserver Donning Tests

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,01 Dec 2014,31 Dec 2014

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January 2009 brought significant attention to the usability of aviation inflatable life preservers. In its accident investigation report NTSBAAR-1003, the National Transportation Safety Board noted that of those passengers who retrieved aviation life preservers following the emergency landing, the majority indicated that they had difficulty donning them. They also found that the preflight safety briefing had not included life preserver donning information or a donning demonstration because the flight was not an extended overwater operation. Additionally, only 8 of passengers reported reading the safety briefing card which included donning instructions before or during the approximately 6-minute flight. The NTSB subsequently recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration Revise the life vest performance standards contained in Technical Standard Order TSO C13f to ensure that they result in a life vest that passengers can quickly and correctly don. This study examined life preserver donning performance relative to different levels of instructional information provided to test participants. Five levels of instruction ranged from none at all up to a typical air carrier preflight briefing and donning demonstration. Life preserver exemplars included those currently installed on transport airplanes including the models carried on board US Airways Flight 1549 and older models approved under earlier versions of TSO-C13, as well as a prototype vest developed at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. The test procedure generally followed the donning test requirements of TSO-C13f. Results showed that none of the life preservers included in the study met the donning requirements using the TSO-C13f donning test, regardless of the type and amount of instructions provided to nave test participants. Even when times for package opening and reading instructional markings were removed,

Subject Categories:

  • Escape, Rescue and Survival
  • Commercial and General Aviation

Distribution Statement: