Belfast Telegraph

Video: Russian company designs 'one of a kind' ejector seat seventy years after Northern Ireland man James Martin's invention

By Jack Simpson and Gary Fennelly

Seventy years after Northern Ireland engineer Sir James Martin invented the first ejector seat, a Russian aerospace equipment company has invented an innovative light aircraft design that it hopes will save the lives of hundreds of pilots in the future.

NPP Zvezda, best known for manufacturing spacesuits for Russian cosmonaut’s, is the company that has come up with the design for the lighter ejector seat that they see as key to making light aircraft travel a lot safer for people.

The idea for the new ejector seat was first announced in 2013, at a light aviation expo in Germany, and it has gone through nearly two years of rigorous tests before being released onto the market.

Currently, weight restrictions on light aircraft mean that traditional ejector seats weigh too much for these types of planes.

Without ejector seats, if a plane gets into trouble, pilots have to go through the long process of undoing their seat belts, breaking out of the cabin and then using their parachute to get to the ground safely.

The first ejector seat was invented in 1945 by Sir James Martin, who was born at Crossgar, Co Down, in 1893.

NPP Zvezda’s new design however, aims to combat weight restrictions by creating an ejector system that weighs only 16kg and can do all of these processes in just a split second.

As seen in test videos released by NPP Zvezda, the system uses a pneumatic cylinder mounted on a telescopic metal pole to propel pilots high into the air to avoid colliding with the plane’s tail.

A spokesperson for Zvezda told RT: “A pilot may find it hard to leave the cabin of a stalling plane because he would have to first unbuckle the harness, remove the canopy, get out and push himself away from the hull. It all takes time.

“Our system does it all in less than a second.”

The design has recently been patented in Russia but NPP Zvezda has announced that they are keen to introduce the seat to other international markets.


Sir James Martin was a Northern Irish engineer who, at the age of 29, set up the Martin Baker Aircraft Company in England along with his friend, Captain Valentine Baker.

The idea for an ejector seat came to Martin after Baker died in an accident whilst testing one of their aircraft - the MB3.

Martin died in 1981. By the time of his death his invention was in use worldwide and saved 4,700 lives.

The Martin-Baker aircraft company is now a leading producer of aircraft ejection seats.

Martin's contribution to engineering was commemorated by the Northern Bank in its Inventor series of banknotes, which featured his portrait on £100 notes.

The £100 Martin notes were discontinued in 2013 when the bank reissued them under the Danske Bank brand.

Wikipedia: James Martin

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