Emergency Equipment in Aircraft

Aircraft · 7 min read · May 27, 2022
emergency equipment in aircraft

A jetliner carries emergency equipment that can be used in the case of an unforeseen or emergency situation that requires immediate action for the operational safety of the flight and the protection of the passengers and crew.

Accidents involving commercial passenger flights are extremely rare. Commercial air travel is officially the safest mode of transportation on the planet, particularly for American airlines, which are regarded as the safest among global operators. In the United States, airline accidents kill only 0.006 people per billion miles flown, with the majority of occurrences involving small air taxis or privately operated leisure aircraft.

Aircraft emergency equipment is vital to the safety of passengers and flight crew during a fire, abrupt decompression, sinking, or direct emergency evacuation. The purpose of emergency supplies is to provide flight crew and passengers with a swift approach to deal with potentially harmful situations onboard the airplane. The emergency equipment is installed for the safety of the crew and passengers in the case of an emergency.

Onboard safety equipment

Escape rope for cockpit

Escape ropes are positioned in a compartment just above the sliding windows on either side of the instrument panel in an Airbus A320 airplane.  While the cockpit is not under pressure, each sliding window can be released. The cockpit crew can use this rope to exit the plane through the sliding windows. This is an evacuation escape for occupants in the cockpit.

Escape slides

Cabin evacuation equipment is either a dual-lane or a single-lane escape slide at all airplane exits. In an emergency, this equipment assists passengers and crew in swiftly exiting the aircraft. The sliding pack is stored in a special storage container.

A first-aid kit box opened on a concrete floor.

First-aid equipment

First aid equipment is stored in multiple locations throughout the cabin, typically in storage containers near an exit. It is easy to gain access to the equipment, which is stored on aircraft in case of an onboard emergency.

  • First Aid Kit (FAK)

First aid kits contain medication for passengers and crew who become ill or suffer cuts and bruises on board. They are housed in various locations throughout any jetliner. The components of each kit are sealed in a waterproof container. Every first aid kit has a shelf life or around five years. The top of the watertight container has a “life expiration” date stamped on it. If the kit is used during a flight, it must be replaced before proceeding to the next.

  • Medical Kit

If a licensed medical providers are onboard, a doctor’s medical kit is kept in the airplane for coping with a medical emergency. The pack includes medications and supplies to assist passengers or crew members who have been seriously wounded or become severely ill.

  • Defibrillator

The defibrillator is fastened with a belt in the cabin’s overhead cargo compartments. A tiny semi-automatic external defibrillator is housed in a semi-rigid housing. It is a battery-powered device that provides controlled electric shock therapy to patients suffering from heart attacks. Every day, it does an automated self-check to guarantee that it is always safe to operate.

  • Universal Precaution Kit (UPK)

Any airliner is outfitted with a universal first-aid kit. The package contains equipment for eliminating unwanted items from the cabin. This decreases the possibility of these things contaminating the crew and passengers.

Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

COSPAS and SARSAT satellites will receive a digital warning signal from the ELT. An ELT can be either permanently connected, automatically activated, or securely fastened. Several ELT devices can be removed from an airliner, kept to make them readily accessible in the event of a disaster, and manually activated by survivors.

Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB)

The ELT system is not required to use the underwater locator beacon. It sends an 8.8 kHz low-frequency signal. When the underwater location beacon is submerged in an ocean or river, the transmission begins automatically. The underwater locator beacon can continuously transmit a signal for 90 days.

Slide raft

Slide rafts are placed on the front and rear passenger or service doors. The sliding rafts give flotation support to passengers and crew members during over-water emergency evacuation operations. When the airplane door is used in emergency mode, the sliding raft automatically inflates.

Survival kit

Each escape-slide raft has survival kits stored in a container. Because there is inadequate storage space in the forward and rear aircraft doors, the containers are stored in-cabin storage compartments. Placards plastered to the outside of the storage chambers indicate where the containers are located.

Supplemental life raft

The overload capacity of the evacuation slide rafts is 165 people. This amount is based on the assumption that one of the escape slide rafts will not deploy due to damage. Additional life rafts are installed in storage compartments in the cabin of a narrow-body airliner with a passenger seat configuration occupancy of more than 165 people, such as the Airbus A320. The supplementary life rafts were fitted and positioned in accordance with an airline’s requirements. The life raft cover comes with inflation and operation instructions.

Life vest

Life vests are kept beneath the passenger seats, in the cabin attendant’s seats, and behind each cockpit seat. A small number of inoperable life jackets are carried on board to allow flight attendants to provide visible guidance to passengers. To avoid mistakes, inoperable life vests are labeled DEMO in bold letters.

Life lines

After the jet has crashed, passengers can utilize life ropes to help them evacuate the airplane and stay on the wings. On the A320, the life ropes are fixed in the hat racks next to the emergency exits on the left and right.

Life line attachment points are yellow in color and located within each adjacent escape hatch recess, revealing itself only when the exit hatch is lifted. On the upper surface of each wing, it is located about an inch above the outer edge of the engine nacelle.

Various types of fire extinguishers on displayed outside a building.

Portable fire extinguishers

In the event of an onboard fire, the plane is fitted with firefighting equipment. The extinguishers are kept in easily accessible locations and fully prepared for urgent use. Hand fire extinguishers are used to put out a fire in the cabin, flight deck, or the avionics compartment.

There are three types of portable fire extinguishers. Each type contains a unique substance, such as halon, 2-BTP, or water. If a fire starts, the staff can use the portable fire extinguisher to put it out. Throughout the cabin and flight deck, portable fire extinguishers are strategically placed and each location is marked with a label.

  • Halon agent portable fire extinguisher

The portable fire extinguisher is filled with halon chemicals and pressurized with nitrogen. It can be used to put out A, B, and C class fires.

  • 2-BTP agent portable fire extinguisher

The portable fire extinguisher contains a 2-BTP (Bromo trifluoropropene) agent. It can put out a class B or C fire in the passenger cabin or flight deck.

  • Liquid agent portable fire extinguisher

The portable fire extinguisher is made up of potassium acetate, ethylene glycol, and water. It is capable of putting out an A-class fire.

Protective Breathing Equipment (PBE) for flight crew

PBE shields the flight crew from hazardous gases and smoke.

Portable oxygen devices for cabin crew

Portable oxygen equipment is available for flight attendants throughout the cabin. It provides oxygen to guests and crew for first-aid treatment. It also enables flight attendants to move around the cabin while still maintaining an oxygen supply. The portable oxygen apparatus consists of handheld oxygen cylinders, continuous-flow oxygen masks, and protective breathing devices.

The oxygen supply is provided by a high-pressure cylinder with a volume of 11 cubic feet of normal temperature pressure dry at a pressure of 1850 psi. The oxygen cylinders are held in place by rapid clamp brackets. The expiry date and cylinder pressure are monitored regularly to keep them operational.

Cockpit emergency equipment list

The standard cockpit emergency equipment components are:

  • Flash light
  • Portable halon fire extinguisher
  • Life vests for the flight crew
  • Protective Breathing Equipment (PBE)
  • Crash axe
  • Fireproof gloves

Cabin emergency equipment list

The standard cabin emergency equipment components are:

  • Portable halon extinguisher
  • Portable oxygen cylinder and portable oxygen mask
  • PBE
  • First-aid kit
  • Megaphone
  • Portable ELT survival beacon
  • Flash light
  • Manual release tool
  • Demo kit
  • Life vest for infants
  • Spare life vests
  • Life vests for passengers (one stowed under each seat)
  • Life vests for cabin crew (one stowed under each cabin attendant seat)
A card displaying aircraft safety instructions.

ICAO regulatory requirements

Aircraft Operations: International Commercial Air Transport Planes (Part I, Annex 6) Part I covers standards and best practices for in-flight operations, as well as passenger safety and other topics. In addition to carry-on luggage, each aircraft requires a different number of cabin crew members. This section also addresses cabin crew fatigue management, light crew safety, cabin crew training programs, and aircraft equipment standards.

Aircraft cabin layout and manufacturing, occupant safety, technical system characteristics, environmental situation, and human factors, particularly ergonomics, are all addressed in Annex 8: Airworthiness of Aircraft. Emergency landing weights, cabin fire prevention, and escape, illumination and labeling, emergency supplies, and surveillance cabin design aspects are all part of crashworthiness and cabin safety.

Final thoughts

Safety equipment is important to have in any vehicle but it is absolutely vital in a passenger carrying airplane or a cargo aircraft. Immediate readiness for any situation in the air can save many lives and prevent disastrous consequences, hence the aviation industry takes special care to include all the necessary safety equipment for any situation onboard a craft.

While accidents in the air are very rare and in most cases you will probably not encounter any serious incident while flying, you will still always find readily accessible equipment such as first aid kits, a life vest, signal flares, a portable battery powered megaphone aboard an airplane because if such tools are present, the aircraft is not considered airworthy.


What is emergency equipment?

Emergency equipment includes instruments placed to be employed in the event of unexpected or emergency events that necessitate prompt action for the safe operation of the flight and safety of individuals, such as a firefighting, evacuation, and survival equipment.

What are the types of emergency in aviation?

An emergency scenario occurs when the stability of the aircraft or the people on board or on the ground is jeopardized for any reason. In-flight equipment malfunctions, natural catastrophes, explosions, and medical problems for airplane occupants are examples of such circumstances.

What is aircraft equipment?

Equipment is a necessary item for a particular task, most commonly refers to a set of tools or other objects commonly used to achieve a particular objective. Aircraft equipment refers to a set of devices that are installed or placed for safe operations.

What to do if there is an emergency on a plane?

In the case of emergency, follow the directions of cabin crew and stay alert during the whole time. Almost 95 percent of aircraft accidents end in survivors, so even if the worst-case scenario occurs, your odds aren’t as bad as you would think. You may learn to plan for the safety of each flight, to remain calm during the tragedy, and to bear the consequences.

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Jet pilot @NASA

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