What Does ‘Brace, Brace’ Mean?


You’ve just entered a plane and made yourself comfortable. “Please listen to the safety procedures, even if you are a frequent flyer. On your safety card, there is an image of a person holding their head. Please adopt this position when you hear the command ‘Brace, Brace'”. But what does this really mean???

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A lot of countries adopt their own version of this position, used to ‘brace’ yourself for the impact of a plane crash. Here are a few of many:

Placing the head on, or as close as possible to, the surface it is most likely to strike. (For example,the seat in front.)

Having the passenger lean over to some degree.

Placing the feet flat on the floor.

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In the United Kingdom, following the Kegworth air disaster in 1989, the UK Civil Aviation Authority looked into the best position possible to protect yourself.

The brace position as chosen for airlines in the UK for passengers is based on work analysing Kegworth. It is slightly different from that in the United States and some other countries. Passengers should place their feet and knees together with their feet on the floor and tucked behind their knees to avoid legs being broken against the seat in front. They should bend as far forward as possible, resting their head against the seat in front and place their hands on the back of their head, with the hands one on top of another. Their elbows should then be brought inwards. This protects the head from debris. The head should be as far below the top of the seats as possible to prevent injury from any collapsing overhead compartments.

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The brace position for the United States is similar to that of the UK, but rather than placing the hands on the back of the head, passengers are told to place them on the top of the seat in front, one hand holding the other wrist and resting the head in the space between the arms. If the seat in front is not within reach then passengers are advised to either grab their ankles or place their hands under their legs and grab the other arm.

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During the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight on January 15, 2009, there were fewer than three minutes to land U.S. Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River and the only words the passengers heard from the pilot were “Brace for Impact”. Flight attendants chanted, “Brace! Brace! Heads down! Stay down!” and all 155 people on board survived with no life-threatening injuries.

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All this talk of aeroplanes leads to the tragedy of flight MH370. It never reached Beijing, it’s planned destination, from Kuala Lumpur. Instead, it was found many miles away from it’s route, south-west of Australia. There remains many clues undiscovered leading to just how it got there, but it’s unlikely that their were any survivors. A tragedy never seen before…

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