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Thread: Seat Belt Replacement After an Accident

  1. #1

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    Seat Belt Replacement After an Accident

    Does anyone know of a requirement to replace seat belts after an accident (for occupied seats).

  2. #2
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    If you are inquiring about an aircraft with an experimental airworthiness certificate I am not aware of a regulation requiring the installation of seat belts.
    Sam Buchanan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Buchanan View Post
    If you are inquiring about an aircraft with an experimental airworthiness certificate I am not aware of a regulation requiring the installation of seat belts.
    14 CFR Part 91.107(3) states:

    (3) Except as provided in this paragraph, each person on board a U.S.-registered civil aircraft (except a free balloon that incorporates a basket or gondola or an airship type certificated before November 2, 1987) must occupy an approved seat or berth with a safety belt and, if installed, shoulder harness, properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing.

    Since all E-AB aircraft are subject to Part 91, and there's no exception in 91.107 for experimental aircraft, all occupants of E-AB aircraft must wear a seatbelt, and if they're installed, a shoulder harness. Given this, it would be hard to legally fly an E-AB aircraft if it didn't have seatbelts, ergo, seatbelts are required for E-AB aircraft.

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    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Point taken....even though there are parts of Part 91 that don't apply to experimental aircraft per the Operating Limitations (instruments for day VFR flight).

    Now, how do you answer the original question....which is obtuse since we don't know whether the question is about experimental or standard aircraft?
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 08-13-2020 at 11:15 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
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    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahramin View Post
    Does anyone know of a requirement to replace seat belts after an accident (for occupied seats).
    I'd say that the answer is "no." Part 91 addresses reporting procedures and such matters, but doesn't specify any other post-accident actions. Part 43 states who can replace belts, but doesn't specify any criteria for replacement.

    AC43-13-1B (Acceptable Practices) states that belts must be replaced when they show deterioration (9.46), AC43-13-2A (Alterations) merely gives guidelines for installing them.

    It's possible that manufacturer's guides may specify the need for replacement after accidents, but there are "accidents" and there are "accidents." Overshooting the runway into an embankment will put a lot more load onto the belts than a gear-up landing.

    So, I'm of the opinion that they only have to be replaced on condition. If a post-accident examination shows damage/stretching, replace. If the airplane is bent, replacing the belts will probably be the cheapest part of the repair.

    Ron Wanttaja
    Last edited by rwanttaja; 08-13-2020 at 12:23 PM.

  6. #6
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    For an experimental aircraft the over riding factor is the statement signed by the person who does the condition inspection:

    "....this aircraft is in a condition for safe operation....."
    Sam Buchanan
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    My back ground is in automobile racing. As such I have to abide by the rules of the racing organization that I am participating in.

    As for seat belts and shoulder harness, I have tested a couple systems myself and I think that the rules governing race car belts may be a good indication of how someone should look at the belts in their plane. For Sports Car Club of America, belts must be replaced 5 years after the date of manufacture. The belt material must be replaced and a new manufacturing date affixed to the belt system. This is done because of the nature of the belt material and the fact that it degrades over time. These rules are not the result of a bureaucracy sitting down one day and making up a rule. Rules like this come about because of the injury or death of a contestant because of belt failure.

    For an airplane, I think that replacing belts every 5 years might be a bit extreme but maybe 10 years maximum or when there is sufficient deterioration to require that the belts be replaced.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ahramin View Post
    Does anyone know of a requirement to replace seat belts after an accident (for occupied seats).
    More likely than not, you will not find a regulation that states the seatbelts need to be replaced. But call and ask a manufacturer; they will know. If the aircraft was truly in an accident, I would replace the belts. In certificated airplanes (and you can watch the front end impact tests of automobiles, too), the belts stretch a lot during impact. If a stretched restraint is reused in the stretched condition, it will not give on initial impact and stop the occupant in a quicker fashion, imparting higher G-loads into the body.

  9. #9
    bigdog's Avatar
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    Rewebbing belts is dirt cheap, ~$10/piece. But you have to do it before the TSO tag is gone/unreadable. You need a readable TSO tag to pass annual for the certified crowd. As long as they can make out that it is a TSO tag, they will reweb and add their own TSO tag to the result.

    For replacement after an accident, consider that climbers retire any rope that has arrested a fall. It did its job. Cheap insurance.
    Regards,
    Greg Young
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  10. #10

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    Thank you all. The belt manufacturer did not have anything to say other than check for condition. Many good points here and it's much appreciated.

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