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Canadian airline removes life vests to save weight and fuel

31 Comments

Air Canada's regional carrier Jazz is removing life vests from all its planes to save weight and fuel. Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stuart said Friday that government regulations set by Transport Canada allow airlines to use floatation devices instead of life vests provided the planes remain within 50 nautical miles of shore.

Safety cards in the seat pockets of Jazz aircraft now direct passengers to use the seat cushions as floatation devices.

"The nature of our operations doesn't require that we carry both," Stuart said, adding that Jazz doesn't fly over the ocean.

Jazz planes do fly over the Great Lakes and along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax to Boston and New York.

Stuart said all of Jazz's flights operate within 50 nautical miles of shore. She said they operate 880 flights daily to 85 destinations in North America and that the number of flights operating over water are minimal.

A commercial-style life vest weighs roughly a half-kilogram, meaning 25 kilograms would be saved by removing them from a Dash-8 aircraft with 50 seats, the most common aircraft the company uses.

"Transport Canada was satisfied that we met the regulation, and they approved the change," Stuart said.

Stuart has said that with the high cost of fuel, the airline is looking at everything.

Woody French, mayor of Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, called it a cheap move. French has been advocating for an airline passenger bill of rights.

"A lot of these airlines say 'Well, our passengers are our main concern.' That's a bit of a misnomer," French said. "We're a distant second. Profits are the first."

French is sending a letter of protest to Canada's transport minister, saying that the elimination of the life vests will result in minimal fuel savings.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette said Jazz was going "above and beyond" the regulations before.

"It was extra, above and beyond what was required under the Canadian aviation regulations," she said.

Alison Duquette, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration based in Washington, said U.S. federal aviation regulations say that "if you are an airline and you fly an airplane over a body of water, you have to have a life preserver or an approved floatation means."

Duquette said that a seat cushion meant as a floatation device could satisfy that requirement. She said that she was not aware of any U.S. airlines getting rid of life vests on their airplanes to help with weight issues.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

31 Comments
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"Stuart said, adding that Jazz doesn’t fly over the ocean....Jazz planes do fly over the Great Lakes and along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax to Boston and New York."

Flying along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax to Boston and New York...Please correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't it means the planes fly over the Atlantic Ocean? Or has the Atlantic Ocean been re-classified as a very big pond?

Next: extra charge of $25 if you would like to have a life vest rented for the duration of the flight...kinda like an insurance policy for the trip.

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Just wondering, has anyone (no not you personally) ever actually survived a plane crash into water thanks to a blow up life vest?

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Removing the passengers will save even more weight.

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People have survived crashes into rivers, lakes and oceans. I guess the question is, as a passenger who survives the initial crash, would you rather be secured in a life jacket or forced to cling to a seat cushion in what is likely to be paralyzingly cold water?

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To use the seat cushion? I'm sure the elderly and parents with children, providing they survive the crash of course, will be able to manage quite easily.

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Betting and Bebert,

My thought exactly. If you survive the crash but find yourself unconscious in cold water, what are the odds you will hold onto your seat cushion vs being kept afloat by a life vest?

I agree with UnagiDon, too. If fewer people flew Jazz, their planes would weigh less and they could save even more money on fuel.

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Not that agree one way or the other with Air Canada's decision, but apparently safety experts reckon that on a water emergency landing most survivors would inflate their life vests inside the aircraft, despite being told not to, and blocking the emergency exits.

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Makes some sense, I'm always doubtful about their value. Why don't planes carry parachutes?

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Next they'll be getting rid of the seats altogether and we'll just huddle together on the floor...

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I find this a very regrettable and controversial decision. One of false economy. One that will leave people wondering where else the airline is going to shrimp and save. Reduce the amount of toilet paper rolls? Remove the seats and covers from the toilet bowls? Carry less drinking and flushing water? Of course reduce all amenities for passengers? Mark my words, this is just the beginning.

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Even a caveman like me knows that airline crashes are rare and that surviving one in water even rarer. I dont know if they have any value whatsoever.

But what I do know is, if one of your family members dies in such a crash on this airline, I can secure you several million dollars in compensation. So don't worry.

--Cirroc

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Canadian airline removes life vests to save weight and fuel

Hey I got a great idea for Jazz, why not remove the seats and put in lay down bunks. That way you can stack the passengers 3 to 4 high. Hey racks weigh a lot less than those darn seats anyways! Hey how about also NO LUGGAGE allowed on their flights! Think of all the weight you could save if you force the passengers to buy all new clothes in the next city!

Hell while we are at it, NO CLOTHES! Yes NO CLOTHES flights! Wow they could saves tons and tons of fuel!

They would go out of business fast, but think of all the fuel they could save!

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Whatever happened to the "standing room only" plane interiors I saw on the drawing boards a couple of years ago? The passengers stand and lean back against a nearly vertical short, narrow wall. Heck, the airlines can fit a whole lotta rows of those light things inside a plane!

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Unfortunately, if they try to reduce some of the ridiculous salaries they are paying out for employees sometimes only working half a month and the incredibly high per diums they get too, there will be a strike and lose even more money. Unions are kicking the airlines butts these days. So they have no choice but find every other possible way to save money. By the way, hasnt oil been decreasing recently? why arent the charges dropping too? I`d like to know how much 25kg in weight actually saves an airline. The public better start speaking up against all these corporate schemes.

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If you survive the crash but find yourself unconscious in cold water, what are the odds you will hold onto your seat cushion vs being kept afloat by a life vest?

If you find yourself unconscious in cold water, you won't be pulling the cord to inflate the vest.

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Hey I got a great idea for Jazz, why not remove the seats and put in lay down bunks. That way you can stack the passengers 3 to 4 high.

I got the feeling you were kidding. But that idea would get my vote. As a caveman I have to be heavily sedated to fly or else I go crazy in the cabin. Just walking into the belly of that giant bird makes me pretty agitated and I start howling like a wolf. I can't help it. I am a caveman. Anyway waking up hours later after being in a sitting position all that time is quite painful. The bunks would be good! b(^o^)

--Cirroc

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CavemanLawyer ( 10:00 ) - Hilarious post! Thanks!

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Chances of surviving a crash in water are very low. You will most likely land in cold or freezing water which can kill you very quickly. You can be saved if you're near an inhabited area with good access for emergency services. In that case both lifevests and flotation devices save lives. The 5 survivors of Air Florida flight 80 couldn't have managed to hang on in freezing water without them. In fact only one person drowned, the others were killed on impact. I would not fly with an airline that doesn't provide lifevests.

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All this for a gain of only 25 kilos???

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A commercial-style life vest weighs roughly a half-kilogram, meaning 25 kilograms would be saved by removing them from a Dash-8 aircraft with 50 seats, the most common aircraft the company uses.

They're doing this to save 25 kilos? One less passenger would equate to 65-90 less kilos! Life vests are much more practical than seat cushions.

Sorry, but my little kid wouldn't be able to hold on to a seat cushion to save her life. A broken arm or two would also make it rather difficult for me to hold on to a cushion.

This equates to miniscule savings on gas to that of potentially saving lives. Bad move by Jazz airlines and for any airlines thinking about doing this.

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Possibly ZOOM airlines from Scotland to Cdn & back could have copied Jazz & possible lasted a week longer instead of suddenly going belly-up & leaving so many stranded. Mind you Zoom does go over the Atlantic Ocean.

Agree with out JoeBigs for it would be like the railway bunkers & so the upper & lowers to sleep in. My how i remember those days.

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And how much does anyone really know about the true state of the airlines' operating costs?? That the price of oil seriously threatens their very survival has become kind of a given in the market; are they really at the mercy of oil prices? Are they any more or less efficiently run than other businesses? Are they in such a unique industry operationally that there are no benchmarks for performances that would allow us to understand the true state of their businesses?

The issue of pilot and cabin attendant salaries, for example.

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sk4ek

You are right. All of my education at Uni and work experience after Uni was in the aviation industry. There is a lot of nonsense/corruption going on. Overpaid people as a result of unions is crazy. Thousands of Air Canadas staff sometimes work only half a month and make big coin and that doesnt include the fringe benefits when traveling. I`m not sure oil is the real problem either.

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Bouyant seat cushions were never meant to serve as primary flotation devices but only as a secondary means of flotation for people who are wearing inflatable life vests. Floating seat cushions do absolutely nothing for passengers who are injured or unconscious. These flotation devices are not meant to save passengers of an aircraft that breaks up and crashes into water but are for those on aircraft that are forced to ditch, or make a (semi)controlled landing on water. That said, I'm appalled that this airline is gambling with their passengers lives in order to reduce their operating costs. I simply don't believe that there were no other means of reducing aircraft weight. Life saving equipment should be the absolute last thing to go. And another thing, whoever said that there should be some distinction in categorizing the Great Lakes and seas/oceans is a fool. Anyone who's spent any time around the Great Lakes would know better...

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I love this post, most people can only critize the company's attempt to lower costs for fuel consumption. Look at the big picture, if there was some type of emergency at 20,000+ feet, what are the odds of anyone surviving? Once the airliner had made the emergency landing in the water, the alternate floatation devices would be deployed. That and the proximaty of rescue forces in the area would be there in a timely manner. I would love to read the responses of the readers if ANA or JAL would remove the floatation devices on the Fukuoka to Tokyo routes. The over water portion is minimal, yet unavoidable.

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I once saw one of those documentaries about a plane crash that happened at sea (sorry, don't remember where/when) but while there were some survivors there would have been a lot more - many people inflated their lifevests inside the plane. They didn't block the exit but as the water filled the plane they were pressed against the ceiling, unable to submerge to go through the doors...Maybe the crew need to emphasis the info when going through the safety stuff? On topic though, I think removing them to save a mere 25kg is ridiculous.

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change the name to air okaneda

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Good riddance ! I mean how many times does an aircraft in trouble of plunging into the sea survived the plunge and managed to get all its passengers to put on the life vest in time before impact. Would the aircraft stay intact, would it hinder the chance to escape from a water filled cabin ?? One in a million except in the movies !

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kview

There have been plenty of water landings (not crashes) and yes life vests do save lives when used properly. Just because some passengers may use them incorrectly doesn't make them useful survival tools. If safety is the airline's primary concern it couldn't/wouldn't remove basic and critical lifesaving gear like these lifevests, bottom line. Evidently profit trumped safety for this airline...

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Alaska Airlines smaller planes like Dash and Embrairs only have seat floatation devices, I've been on their flights several times.

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No wonder Zoom Airlines went out of business on 28 August... http://www.flyzoom.com/

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