Indian Air Force

Ejection System: Is It Easy For A Pilot To Eject From A Fighter Aircraft?

Do you know? modern aircraft are designed in such a way that they allow the pilot to eject from the aircraft if there is no hope left for him to save the aircraft. Yes, they are designed and featured keeping this possibility in mind. There might be a situation where aircraft are about to crash. At that moment, at least the life of the pilot can be saved through the ejection system installed in the pilot seat.

Firstly, we will know the working mechanism of the ejector seat. I am sure that you will automatically get the answer then. However, ejector seats are designed only on fighter aircraft and not on any airline plane, transport aircraft, and a helicopter. There are many reasons behind that.

Why Ejection Systems Are Required?

In this fast-moving world and the rapid development of technology, warfare needs got modernized. In the past some decades, every country has acquired advanced machines with the latest technology. As a result, competition among rivals has gained exponential growth. The same case is with Aviation Warfare as well. Every Air Force started to compete in a race of developing or acquiring the best modern flying machines. And this leads to the invention of ejection seats. When fighter jets became advanced, their features and specifications also increased. Like we achieved a high maximum speed of the aircraft, better engines with a higher thrust to weight ratio. The maneuverability of the aircraft increased as better aerodynamic designs were made.

All these factors came up with equal risks to the life of pilot. There is higher possibility of crashing when you are equipped with some of the best machines which are faster than sound.

History Of Ejection System

Heinkel and SAAB first introduced ejection systems in World War II. After World War II, the need for such systems became pressing, as aircraft speeds were getting ever higher, and it was not long before the sound barrier was broken. Since then, there was no looking back in the technology. As a result, today one cannot imagine a fighter aircraft without the ejection system installed on the pilot seat.

Know The Mechanism And Its Working

The most important part of the ejection seat is Bucket. As the name suggests, it is a kind of bucket or storage box, which contains all the necessary items for the pilot. If the pilot ejects in alone area, then he can use those items for survival until anyone reaches to rescue him. The pilot can send his accurate location details to his team by using the map and other items.

Secondly, the canopy of the aircraft plays a crucial role when there is a need to eject. It is the part of the aircraft from where the pilot enters the aircraft or exits. The fighter jet canopies usually are made of (special) acrylic plastics or polycarbonate, with special coatings for RCS reduction in some cases. In general, different fighter canopies differ in their material and construction. This canopy automatically detaches when the pilot activates the ejection system.

Thirdly, there is a parachute, which is used for slowing down the ejection process. And in last, we have the main parachute to help the pilot to guide to the ground.

Effect Of Ejection System On The Body Of Pilot

But ejection is not easy. It can be the worst nightmare for a pilot. However, the ejection system is designed to save the life of the pilot, but it does not guarantee that. That depends on many factors. The pilot needs to maintain a proper posture before ejection. He might have to encounter the force around 15-20 times the gravitational pull. This is more than enough to break the Spinal bones in our body. From the moment when the pilot starts the ejection process until the moment the parachute is opened, there is a time gap of 4-5 seconds. An explosion under the seat is ignited followed by throwing of the pilot into the air.

After the pilot ejects from the aircraft, he needs to find a safe place to land. In addition to this, he is always advised to lay down on his back until his team reaches to rescue him. If the pilot has not ejected at a safe place, then he uses his survival tools to survive in adverse conditions.


After examining all these facts, we can estimate the risk involved in ejecting from a fighter aircraft. Moreover, the pilot has to decide whether to eject or not, in a span of a very short time, say a few seconds. Therefore, they are required to have less reaction time. Ejection systems are used at the very last moment when the pilot feels helpless in saving the aircraft from crashing. In addition, he needs to decide when to eject, as it can decide where the aircraft will crash. Every possible effort is made by pilots to save the aircraft from falling in populated areas.

So, we can understand that ejection is helpful in saving the pilot from death, but it can be the last thing a pilot wants to do in his life.  

Have a look, how the ejection system works in slow motion through this video.


Yash Gupta

Hello everyone, Myself Yash, a student trying to share thoughts with you. I Like to read about Military and stuff.

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