#565: Runway trains

When there’s a fire aboard an airliner, the people who are sitting on an aisle tend to have a much higher chance of escaping than those seated nearest to a window.

This is because airline furniture is very effective in obstructing people from moving about inside the fuselage: those who can migrate directly down an aisle seem to move very much faster. Today’s invention is a new arrangement designed to allow the easiest possible egress in the event of an emergency.

Each seat is already mounted onto a track fitted securely into the cabin floor. These rails could be fairly easily rearranged so as to form a layout something like a railway shunting yard. In the event of eg an emergency landing, passengers would remain strapped in their places. The seats would then all be mechanically released and free to move, on rollers, along the tracks. The tracks would allow seats to carry their occupants to one exit at the front and/or one at the rear where they would roll out and down inflatable chutes as normal.

Seats would be attached to each other by a cable (normally hidden in the floor). As the first seat is manually pushed overboard, it drags the next and thus all the passengers can be ejected in a few seconds. Injuries by impact with flying seats would be minimised by providing sufficient cable length between them (and possibly extra padding on the seats themselves).

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