August 10, 2011 2 Comments
New aircraft must undergo an evacuation test to demonstrate that everyone on board can escape within 90 seconds when half the exits are blocked. A study of 105 accidents and personal accounts from almost 2,000 survivors of how they managed to escape from crash landings showed that this time may not be achieved, and can depend on the social bonds of the people travelling,
…many passengers delayed their escape to help friends or relatives. People travelling with colleagues, however, appeared to focus on their own survival and head straight for the exit.
This has been replicated in trials. Incentivize everyone by offering $10 so long as all passengers all exit the aircraft within 90 seconds and you’ll find they manage it with time to spare with plenty of cooperation. Change it to be $20 for the first 50% off the aircraft, and not that many people get out in time. Hardly unexpected.
Key takeaway: pick an aisle seat, and be within 5 rows of an exit door.
How about the reverse, the fastest way to get everyone on the plane? Letting people board randomly is better than grouping into rows,
…the common back-to-front boarding method is actually the second worst method possible, only slightly better than boarding front to back.
But a more optimal strategy, which would be 5x faster on a plane with 120 seats, is to start with the window seats, then middle, followed by aisle, with passengers doing first the odd-numbered rows and then the evens (to give more space to stand in whilst putting hand luggage away).