Obviously we all know about the oxygen masks but let's say there was a strong exceptional reason for me to get off the airplane, are there parachutes that normal passengers have access to?

I cant recall mentioning parachutes in the mini lecture the aircrew give before taking off.

  • No. You would also have trouble opening the door while the aircraft was pressurized. – Calchas Jun 22 '15 at 7:22
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    Have you done any parachuting before? You do realize it's not very easy to get right on your own ... most people would have a lot better chance of surviving if they stayed in their seats with the seatbelt on. – Calchas Jun 22 '15 at 7:26
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    If you needed to have brain surgery to remove a cancerous growth would you prefer to trust a skilled, trained and well paid surgeon to do it while you were unconscious or would you prefer to "fight for your life" and do it yourself? – Calchas Jun 22 '15 at 7:30
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    Also have a look at this question at aviation.SE which explains much of the 'why'. – drat Jun 22 '15 at 8:03
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should be on aviation.stackexchange.com – Maître Peseur Jun 22 '15 at 8:24

The only way there's likely to be a parachute on a plane is if a skydiver happens to have carried one on in their carry-on.

There are multiple reasons for this but generally a parachute would be next to useless in a commercial airliner and because of that it's pointless to take up space and add weight for something that will never be used.

Why are parachutes useless in these situations? Well, for a start most planes are pressurized and you can't open the door when the plane is pressurized. If the plane is suffering a dramatic loss of pressure due to a structural failure or whatever you're unlikely to be able to find and put on a parachute due to situation.

Further -- even if you could get the parachute on and find a way to exit -- it's unlikely you have the training to jump from a plane even if you have normal parachute training:

When your average daredevil skydives for fun, the plane is typically travelling at between 80 and 110 mph when the skydiver jumps. Tandem and accelerated free fall (AFF) jumps occur between 10,000 and 13,000 feet, while static jumps can be as low as 3,500 feet.


At 35,000 feet (three times higher than a typical jump) every passenger would need high altitude equipment (HALO) that includes an oxygen tank, mask and regulator, flight suit, ballistic helmet and altimeter just to manage the thin air. Or they could just pass out from hypoxia and wake up later, hopefully when the parachute automatically deployed at under 15,000-20,000 feet.

Of course, even if the plane was flying lower for some reason:

... none of this would matter since the plane is moving so fast (600 mph), and it is so large, that many passengers would almost certainly smash into it and suffer debilitating if not fatal injuries.

(All quotes from this article which has much more information).

As that article also mentions some small planes do have is a parachute for the plane itself which we might someday see in larger commercial aircraft.

It's entirely possible that some smaller planes carry parachutes for passengers, but I think it's unlikely.


tl;dr No, commercial aircraft don't have parachutes

If you google the topic, you will find quite a couple of articles on the topic, explaining why this wouldn't work. (For instance this one). Some of the many problems with this are:

  • Only a small percentage of accidents happen during flight, most happen on landing or take off, when parachutes won't be any help, because there's no time to deploy them.
  • Using a parachute is not as easy at it may sound and apparently even wearing a parachute will take quite a while. Now imagine explaining this to a cabin full of inexperienced people doing this in a very restrained place in a very limited time. And that's even before coming to the challenge of making them jump out of the door.
  • There's also a lot of environmental factors which makes this difficult. Calchas mentioned opening the door. But there's also the speed of the aircraft (if you take the wrong door, you might just hit the wing when jumping off. The lack of oxygen at this altitude will probably make you pass out. And as the article also mentioned, some crashes are due to bad weather, where a jump would be nearly impossible.

Overall this seems like a rather dangerous idea, and it is questionable if this would save any lives at all. For a more thorough explanation on all this, look at this question over at aviation.SE.

  • "Only a small percentage of accidents happen during flight" is KEY. – Ian Ringrose Jun 22 '15 at 12:50

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