An experienced Boeing 747 pilot has revealed why passengers are told to adopt the ‘brace’ position in an emergency – and rubbished the urban myth that it’s designed to break their necks on impact.
Nick Eades, of Sussex, who retired last year after a 40-year career with British Airways, told Ladbible the position is actually designed to protect the neck and back.
The position involves bending forward and putting your hands over your head to prepare for a crash, to help your body brace for impact.
Retired British Airways captain Nick Eades, pictured, has revealed why passengers are told to adopt the ‘brace’ position in an emergency – and rubbished the urban myth that it’s designed to break their necks on impact
A popular urban myth suggests it is meant to help break the necks of passengers in a serious crash.
The pilot said there’s no truth to the morbid conspiracy theory.
‘You’re just trying to get the body into a position that’s going to suffer least damage,’ he said.
‘It’s like whiplash – you’re trying to avoid that sudden movement of the head, which can result in serious injury, if not death.’
In his books Self Improver: A Pilot’s Journey and Still Improving: Becoming the World’s Most Experienced 747 Captain, Nick details terrifying incidents he has experienced mid-flight.
He recalled one incident when he had to land a plane when two of the four airplane engines were inoperative as part of a training exercise.
Monarch Airlines Airline safety booklet showing passengers how to get into the brace position in case of a crash landing. Nick Eades explained it is designed to protect the neck on impact
He was put to the test in danger scenarios, including ones where the could be a wing fault.
‘It was indeed the most challenging, the old model of the 747 was underpowered and even with all the engines falling on it struggled with high weights, losing two of the engines made handling of the aircraft extremely critical,’ he writes.
The pilot has also had harrowing experiences on the ground.
On one stop over in Zimbabwe in the 90s, Nick and his crew were met at the airport by a limousine – typical of the luxury affording to British Airways staff in the region at the time – and turned into an area known for gang welfare.
The limousine was attacked by a narcotics gang in Harare which Nick referred to as ‘one of the most dangerous places’ at the time and their limousine was ‘split in two’. Crew members were flung across the ground while Nick was left ‘covered in blood’.
In his books Self Improver: A Pilot’s Journey and Still Improving: Becoming the World’s Most Experienced 747 Captain, Nick details terrifying incidents he has experienced mid-flight. Pictured, the cover of Nick’s book
The limo has been purposefully hit by a large truck with bull bars and ‘most of the seats ejected into the roads’ with crew still in them.
At first when he couldn’t find her, Nick feared the worst, but found her after he heard her groaning under wreckage, her face was ‘covered in blood’ and as he pulled her out from under the place she was trapped ‘she let out an agonized cry, her ear had been pierced by the side of the seat and she was held fast’.
He continues in the book: ‘Despite her protests I pulled her free, almost detaching her ear in the process.’
‘There were lots of injuries and five of the crew had been seriously injured, to my astonishment some of the crew were being led away to private cars nearby and people had already crowded round trying to scavenge and make money from our predicament.
‘I was furious. Some of the crew needed treatment in a hospital. The driver was dead.’
The Captain made an emotional call to British Airways that evening and they promised to have a replacement crew sent down straightaway for the flight back, with his crew still in a Zimbabwean hospital and a black eye Nick was asked to operate the flight back as the replacement pilot came down with food poisoning.
One of the most terrifying accounts in his book of a domestic flight from Glasgow to Manchester in 1979 that almost ended in tragedy as the nose of the plane began to nose dive in icy conditions.
He writes: ‘It was Hogmanay and maybe we couldn’t celebrate the new decade after all. I could see the concern on my colleague’s face as the plane gave up any pretense of flying.
‘I dropped the torch and we were in darkness heading toward an ice cube, I just prayed my colleague Pete would avoid a spin. Thankfully we were the right way up but descending at an alarming rate.
‘The whole time I could hear the air traffic controller asking us why we were descending when he had cleared us to climb.
‘The engine was full power but we were still dropping. We were planning how to land blind.
‘As we approached Manchester, our plan to land worked. We looked at each other and said nothing – knowing how close we had come to not seeing in the New Year.’
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