Airbag seatbelt restraint manufacturer AmSafe is closing in on FAA approval of a universal-fit airbag kit aftermarket replacement for two- and three-point seatbelt systems for Part 23 standard category general aviation aircraft (non-Part 23.562 aircraft), the company announced at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida.
The company already produces airbag seatbelts installed as standard equipment on new Cessna singles, the Cirrus SR20 and SR22, Diamond DA–40 and DA–42, Mooneys, and Air Tractors. An approved model list supplemental type certificate has made them available for many GA airplanes. Kit installations are considered a major repair or alteration and will require a Form 337.
“The FAA has committed to helping us move this through the process based on the new Part 23 Rules as an example of how their rule changes can be utilized to upgrade the current general aviation aircraft population,” AmSafe said.
Unlike AmSafe’s other products that can be customized, these kits are universal and will not offer custom colors or cable lengths. The universal kit connects to attach points already in the aircraft and is adjustable. The kit comes with a body block to set in the aircraft seat to allow the belts to be installed with the proper alignment. The kit also includes a new electronic module that doesn’t require a separate diagnostic tool. Just push a button on the unit, and it will perform the diagnostic tests itself. The test can be performed at each annual. The electronic module runs off a lithium battery and is good for 10 years.
The unit measures longitudinal deceleration; if it senses about nine Gs of deceleration consistently for 40 to 50 miliseconds, it will send the signal to inflate the airbag. That entire process takes about 50 miliseconds. The airbag deploys from the lap belt through a tear seam in front of the pilot or passenger. This is designed to slow the occupants’ rate of acceleration before impact and protects them from the yoke, instrument panel, and windscreen.
“The primary objective is to keep you conscious” after an accident, AmSafe Business Development and Technical Support Manager Jim Crupi explained.
A two-seat kit is expected to cost about $2,500.