The recent advancements in commercial airliners are just plane awesome.
From a guidance system that works even when pilots are down, to a user-friendly cockpit that even an untrained civilian can operate, it’s no secret that many commercial airlines are taking off and the industry is hungry for innovation.
Private jet owners have the freedom to land anywhere and take off anytime they want, but is owning one really worth all the trouble? Maintaining a private jet can cost around $800,000 to $2 million per year. Nowadays, we can say that commercial jets have even better amenities: ground support, comfortable seating and a professional crew are all available. Still, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The most important question remains: are private jets safer than commercial airliners? Find out and decide for yourself as we explore the safety features that commercial airlines have, but not private jets.
Emergency Path Markings: Don’t Get Lost On Your Way Out
Imagine a private jet plunging into the ocean, in the middle of nowhere at night. As panic sets in, the first thing you would do is locate the exits but as water fills up the cabin, where do you go? Airlines combat these types of situations by installing waterproof LED strips to lead you to safety.
Advanced Smoke Detection Systems Can Sense Even The Faintest Traces
Transport aircraft, like Boeing, install Ionization and Photo-electric smoke detectors. This state-of-the-art technology can detect and distinguish smoke and aerosols within the cabin, whether in-flight or post crash-landing, and automatically triggers the fire extinguishers. This also debunks the movie myth that you can smoke inside the lavatories without getting caught.
And Fire Extinguishing: Commercial Jets Don’t Burn Easily
In order to control fires in case of emergency, Halon extinguishers are placed all over the cabin. Unlike some business jets that contain small canisters, airliners incorporate automatic fire extinguishing – even the waste receptacles have one. Boeing planes are also constructed in such a way that they can contain a fire for 30 minutes.
Business jets such as the Learjet 45 have a GPWS installed although they are smaller and cheaper versions. Jumbo jets are equipped with up-to-date awareness systems to avoid controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and are revamped versions. This safety feature still relies on the pilot’s ability to quickly react and is more of a sound alert (the “Pull Up, Terrain!” sound you hear in movies).
Emergency Evacuation Slides: Mandatory In Every Jumbo Jet
Newer evacuation slides found on commercial jets also double as life rafts and are a faster way of getting out of the plane (it is required that all passengers have exited the aircraft in 90 seconds). There isn’t a major difference in terms of evacuation for commercial and private jets. Sliding down to safety is just another perk.
16G Seats To Avoid Serious Injury On Impact
Most private jet seats can only withstand an impact 9 times the force of gravity while modern jumbo jets are retrofitted with mandatory 16g seats, therefore, increasing survivability to the max and even lowering chances of a serious injury. Just like Boeing said, “Survivability is greatly influenced by seat design.”
Advanced Flame Detection: Increases Survival Rate Of Passengers
Advanced fire protection and detection systems are present in modern jetliners today. They’re attached to cabin compartments and engines and consist of heat sensors and smoke detectors. Small aircraft owners are given the choice to install them in the fuselage because they claim fires rarely happen on business jets (although you can never be so sure).
Cybersecurity: Private Jets Still Fitted With Prehistoric Tech (Prone To Cyber Attacks)
After alleged NASA hacker Chris Roberts commandeered a United Flight using only a smartphone, FAA had to impose stricter standards on the design of aircraft systems, in turn, prompting more manufacturers to address security issues in today’s modern jetliners. Unfortunately, not all private jets have been upgraded so that makes them an easier target.
Collision Sensors: Helps Avoid Bumps On The Runway
The Traffic/Surface Collision Avoidance System plays a big role during flight and taxi operations respectively and is only available for large aircraft (19 passengers and up), and an updated version (TCAS II) is built for planes with 30 passengers and above. As you can see in the photo above, most accidents on the runway involve smaller aircraft.
Highly Automated Flight: Commercial Jets Can Fly Straight Even When Pilots Are Incapacitated
The A320 Autopiloting system is one of the most advanced in the industry today and even more user-friendly than its counterparts. It also spawned a new generation of electronic systems and is still widely used today. Commercial craft such as the whole Airbus fleet have the ability to prevent dangerous maneuvers and even maintain a flight path without a pilot.
Power Generators: Extra Energy When All Else Fails
Every commercial airliner has an emergency system to help revive all the major components if everything fails mid-flight. It’s known as a Ram Air Turbine and is deployed automatically after power failure. However, it is only useful if the jet flies a certain speed (in most cases, a little dive) in order to generate enough pressure to revive the whole craft.
Crew Fatigue Monitoring: Avoids Untoward Incidents
Airlines employ fatigue risk management systems. For example, the Boeing Alertness Model has been tested using apps (CrewAlert) to measure the crew’s fatigue levels and generate fatigue reports to minimize the risk of accidents. It trains the pilot when to sleep and how to manage stress in the comfort of their seat.
MCAS: Helps Avoid Stalling
This little component controls aircraft angles and was responsible for the 737 Max crashes. But Boeing is currently upgrading the software to prevent mishaps. If designed flawlessly, it gives the pilot a huge advantage. For example, if the system detects a slight change in pitching angles, the horizontal stabilizer adjusts itself to inform the pilot through feedback by the controls.
Just compare the cockpit of an A320 to a Learjet. The commercial airliner wins because of the huge advantages in systems and features, even the commercial crew can just sit back and relax knowing that the jet is too automated (it can even perform an auto-landing). Not too many private jets have this built-in, with manufacturers charging a few thousand bucks for upgrades.
Commercial Crew = Better-Trained Than Private Crew
It’s a fact that commercial pilots are better in terms of experience (more hours, and ratings) than private ones. Airlines uphold the highest standards and the accident rates of business jets in Europe for example, are a bit higher than commercial jets: 84% comes from General/Private Aircraft while 4% are from Commercial Airliners, according to Eurostat.