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Free Content Factors Associated with Delayed Ejection in Mishaps Between 1993 and 2013

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INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this investigation was to identify factors associated with Air Force aviators delaying ejection during in-flight emergencies.

METHODS: The investigator reviewed all reports within the Air Force Safety Automated System describing mishaps that resulted in the destruction of Air Force ejection-seat equipped aircraft between 1993 and 2013. Crewmembers were classified as either timely or delayed ejectors based on altitude at onset of emergency, altitude at ejection, and a determination regarding whether or not the aircraft was controlled during the mishap sequence. Univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression were used to explore the association between delayed ejection and multiple potential risk factors.

RESULTS: In total, 366 crewmembers were involved in in-flight emergencies in ejection-seat-equipped aircraft that resulted in the loss of the aircraft; 201 (54.9%) of these crewmembers delayed ejection until their aircraft had descended below recommended minimum ejection altitudes. Multivariate analysis indicated that independent risk factors for delayed ejection included increased crewmember flight hours and a mechanical or human-factors related cause of the emergency versus bird strike or midair collision.

DISCUSSION: This investigation provided quantitative assessments of factors associated with aviators delaying ejection during in-flight emergencies. Increased odds of delay among crewmembers with greater than 1500 total flight hours suggests that complacency and overconfidence may adversely influence the ejection decision to at least as great a degree as inexperience. Increased odds of delay during mechanical and human factors mishaps confirms previously reported hypotheses and reaffirms the importance of targeting these areas to reduce aviator injuries and fatalities.

Miles JE. Factors associated with delayed ejection in mishaps between 1993 and 2013. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015; 86(9):774–781.
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Keywords: aircraft; aviation; human factors; in-flight emergency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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