Jazz Airline Removes Life Vests: Excessive Weight Reduction?

Posted by: Kenny Chan onAugust 25th, 2008

Jazz Airlines, a regional carrier owned by Air Canada has taken extreme measures to save fuel on their flights by removing inflatable life vests. Aren’t these things mandatory you ask? Technically, no. Transport Canada regulates airline safety and states that airlines only require one floatation device per passenger when a flight is within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of shore. Each seat cushion on an airplane also serves as a floatation device. Infant and toddler sized inflatable life vests will still be available on board Jazz flights.

I’m not sure how many life vests a typical plane carries or how much each one weighs but will this even save any significant amount of fuel? The airline has also stated that it is modifying some routes to ensure the plane remains within the 80 km limit off the shore. Wouldn’t this further negate the fuel savings? Soaring gas prices have led airlines to make changes to their daily operations but they have never been at the expense of passenger safety.

It’s not clear how much weight would actually be saved by removing the vests, “but when you’re trying to save every bit of money you can to make the airline more productive, every bit counts,” Tom Hinton, a former top aviation official at the Transportation Safety Board, told the Toronto Star.

This sort of obsessive weight reduction reminds me of people that replace their factory bolts with “light weight” titanium bolts for better performance when really a quick trip to the porcelain throne with a bottle of laxative will net better results. Next week we’ll hear about Air Canada removing a few rows of seats so they can offer “Standing room” tickets to save even more weight!

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  1. Wendy McDonald says:

    I see another Titanic coming. They could incorporate the life vest right into the seat cusion.

  2. Dino says:

    You know the Dash 8 aircraft in the Jazz Fleet have never carried life vests right? So its only the Bombardier CRJ’s that are effected by this. So for the CRJ-100 which seats 50, they would have 50 life vests on board. If every life vest weights 2lbs that’s 100lbs per flight. If every CRJ-100 did 5 flights per day each plane would carry 500lbs less weight every day. Totaling 12,000lbs across the entire fleet of CRJ-100 every day. That’s 4,380,000lbs in weight savings every year. Even if that only saved $10 per flight, that’s $50 a day per plane. That’s $438,000 per year just for the CRJ-100

    For the CRJ-705 which holds 75 people, thats 75 life vests. So that would be 150lbs of weight every flight. If every CRJ-705 did 5 flights a day that would be 750lbs per plane per day. There are 16 CRJ-705 in the fleet, so that would be 12,000 lbs of weight every day. So if it saved $10 a flight, that’s $50 a day per plane, that’s $438,000 per year for the CRJ-705.

    Thats $876,000 a year that Jazz saves. Life vests also require inspection and need to be replaced periodically. So no inspections, no replacements would save a lot of money as well.

    In the case that a Jazz flight would be more then 50 miles from shore, life vests would be brought on board. Southwest operated without life vests for 30 years. Your seat cushion still acts as a flotation device. I think the reason this story has gotten so much coverage is that people still like to hate on Air Canada. If Westjet removed their life vests the media would be treating them like gods.

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