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Sweepstakes Super Cub gets airbag seat beltsSweepstakes Super Cub gets airbag seat belts

AmSafe airbag seat belts have been installed for the front and rear seats of AOPA’s Sweepstakes Super Cub.

AmSafe airbag seat belts have been installed in the AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub. The airbags deploy away from the occupant for an increased level of safety. Photo by Roger Meggers.

Baker Air Service and an AmSafe technician installed the supplemental type certificated four-point seat belts on July 11, just days before the Super Cub launches on an eight-hour flight from Baker, Montana, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for EAA AirVenture.

The system detects a crash event within milliseconds and deploys the airbags (located in each shoulder harness) away from the occupant. The airbags add a layer of protection, preventing the rear seat occupant from hitting his or her head on the back of the front seat and protecting the pilot in the front from slamming his or her head into the instrument panel or the V-shaped airframe bars running from the middle of the panel to the top corners of the fuselage.

The airbag will deflate after deploying to make it easier for the pilot and passenger to get out of the seat belt and the aircraft.

“Hard landings, vibration, or turbulence” won’t trip the system and make it deploy, according to AmSafe’s system operation documentation.

“One of the goals of the AOPA Sweepstakes refurbishment projects is to demonstrate how legacy airplanes can be made safer, more reliable, and more capable with modern upgrades,” said Tom Haines, AOPA Editor in Chief. “Retrofitting AmSafe airbag seatbelts brings a new level of safety to older airplanes and will serve the winner of the Super Cub well.”

The only maintenance required is an annual inspection and functional testing. The functional testing is also required any time its components have been disconnected and reconnected, removed and replaced, or “when the aircraft receives a post-incident inspection.” The system in the Sweepstakes Super Cub requires a special diagnostic tool in order to perform a functional test.

The electronics module assembly, which contains the system’s electronics and power, is mounted to the Super Cub’s structure and must be sent to AmSafe after seven years for refurbishment. After 14 years (starting from its manufacture date), it must be removed and disposed of. The inflator assembly is good for 10 years, after which it must be sent to AmSafe for disposal.

AmSafe kits come standard on some new aircraft, like Cessna singles, Cirrus, Diamond, and Mooney aircraft. But retrofits, such as the one for AOPA’s Sweepstakes Super Cub, are also available.

Just one day after the airbag seat belts were installed in the Super Cub, AmSafe received FAA supplemental type certificate approval on July 12 for its new State of the Art Restraint System (SOARS) for airplanes certificated under Part 23 and older regulations. The move makes airbag seat belts available for many more aircraft. The system is available in two- and three-point harness configurations on 541 Part 23 aircraft and can be retrofitted on experimental aircraft that have two- or three-point harness seat belts. AmSafe is selling the kits (kit includes pilot and copilot seats) for $2,580.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
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