Airbag Inflation Speeds

Airbag inflation speeds have become a discussion topic for the aviation industry in recent years, usually raised by manufacturers of high-pressure airbag systems! This recovery example, from an incident at Belfast International Airport, serves to demonstrate that low pressure airbag inflation speeds are more than equal to any challenges asked of them.


Photo: courtesy of Belfast International Airport

On Friday 10th November 2017, a Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 was forced to divert to Belfast International after developing a technical fault with the landing nose-gear after take-off from Belfast City Airport.

The pilots were unable to rectify the fault and circled in a holding pattern for two hours to deplete fuel. Meanwhile, full emergency procedures were deployed in preparation for the landing but were not required, after the pilot executed a successful landing at Belfast International. Passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the aircraft (with just one minor hand injury reported), before the aircraft was recovered.

Feedback from Belfast International’s Station Commander
AMS contacted Stephen Goudy, Station Commander at Belfast International, to ask for feedback on this incident (Belfast International have been one of our customers for a number of years).

Stephen confirmed that AMS Airbags were used during the recovery, adding that the recovery was “very, very quick” and it had taken longer to sort out the paperwork than it did to deploy the airbags and undertake the recovery.

deploying airbags

Deploying airbags under fuselage at AMS’s training facility

This dovetails with the timings from our practical “hands-on” aircraft recovery training courses, which typically demonstrate recovery times for nose-gear landing failures of 25 to 40 mins from the deployment of airbags under the fuselage to full inflation (depending on the team being trained and/or any interpretation requirements during training).

inflating airbags

Inflating low pressure airbags using AMS’s Single Control Console

This incident provided a textbook example of how to successfully prepare for a landing nose-gear failure and implement an efficient recovery. We’re delighted AMS equipment played its part in helping to resolve the incident and clear the runway quickly.

As importantly, this field-proving example showed how quickly low pressure airbags can be deployed and fully inflated to assist rapid recovery of disabled aircraft.

See our airbags in action
You can view a series of airbag recoveries (which are included in our Aircraft Recovery Training Course) on our dedicated You Tube Channel using this link.

Comparing airbag systems
In March we will be making a report available to help airports, airlines and military air forces that are seeking more information on the two systems. The final pieces of information for this are being collated at the moment.

Although we are a low pressure airbag provider, this comparison document is being compiled as an impartial review based on our findings, on feedback from aircraft recovery personnel who have trained on both systems, and on facts accrued during 30+ years’ experience of designing, developing and manufacturing low pressure airbag lifting systems.

AMS are producing our Comparison Report on Low Pressure v High Pressure Airbag Recovery Systems to provide readers with a better understanding of aircraft lifting systems, including technical comparisons of both systems using modern (current) aircraft examples.

We hope this document will provide readers with a broad understanding of recovery procedures, and welcome feedback from readers regarding their experience of aircraft lifting airbags and operating procedures.

Some of the facts revealed by our research so far…

  • Low Pressure Systems are equal in speed to High Pressure Systems
  • Are used by 90% of the worlds IATP Kit holders
  • Provide the most cost-effective solution and best Return on Investment
  • Are used by the majority of Air Forces worldwide
  • Are detailed as the recovery solution in all Airbus & Boeing ARDs
  • Can be used on all composite aircraft
  • Are used by the majority of ARTF members Airlines and Airports
  • Conform to the requirements of the ICAO Airport Services Manual Part 5

If you would like to apply for a copy of our report please contact us using the form on our website. Please note that access to the report is limited to airports, airlines and military air forces who are seeking further advice on both systems, and that we will ask for verification of your contact details.

If your airport does not currently own aircraft recovery equipment, or you would like to purchase additional equipment to extend your aircraft recovery capability, please get in touch by calling us on +44 (0)20 3289 9320, or contact us using the form on our website.