Man escapes death after ejecting himself from fighter jet during surprise flight

A Rafale fighter jet aircraft, manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA, is seen performing an aerial display during the 13th Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. The 13th edition of the biennial 2013 Dubai Airshow, the Middle East's leading aerospace event organized by F&E Aerospace. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An investigation into a fighter jet incident where one of the passengers accidentally used ejection handle of the jet has revealed the cause of such action.

It was learnt that the force of the take-off made the 64-years old “float” off his seat, causing him to stand up and involuntarily grab the ejection handle to steady himself.

Air accident investigators found a series of errors in the lead-up to the incident, including ignored medical warnings that the passenger should not undergo to the 3.7g of force generated by the take-off, and loose seat straps that allowed him to float up. He also lost his helmet while being ejected.

The man had never expressed any desire to fly in a fighter jet and had no previous military aviation experience, investigators said. His heart was racing at between 120 and 145 beats per minute beforehand. The flight had been a gift from colleagues and the man felt he couldn’t refuse, Guardian reports.

The air accident report, published on 6 April, found the man ejected himself when the two-seater Dassault Rafale B jet reached about 1,300ft (400 metres), seconds after setting out from Saint-Dizier air base in north-eastern France in March 2019.

His parachute deployed and he had a relatively soft landing in a nearby field, avoiding serious injury, before being taken to hospital.

A malfunction prevented the pilot from being automatically ejected too and he was able to land the plane on the runway despite the involuntary departure of his passenger and the loss of the cockpit canopy.

Judicial and defence investigations into the demonstration flight were continuing.

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