An important part of being a pilot is acquiring a detailed understanding of every single part of an airplane. In fact, student pilots are expected to know the role of various features, parts, systems, and components, as well as where they are located and why they are important. Airplane jumpseats serve as just one example of an aircraft feature that is often misunderstood but is incredibly important to become familiar with.
Airplane jumpseats are auxiliary seats designated for government officials, unofficial pilots, and crew members. Foldable and intended for temporary use, crew members or pilots that fly on an airplane jumpseat call it jumpseating or deadheading. To better understand how jumpseats came to be, we will provide a brief overview of them, their purpose, varying types, safety precautions, and more.
History of Airplane Jumpseats
The term jumpseat dates back to the 1860s, long before the Wright Brothers’ first flight in December 1903. At the time, a jumpseat was simply a foldable extra seat situated in stagecoach carriages. It was utilized by staff that needed a quick means of getting from where they were to where they needed to be for their next shift. Instead of the airline paying their own staff to be transported, stagecoach companies decided to install these seats to transport them for free.
Clearly, the term jumpseat is an unconventional choice for seats that do not do any actual jumping. However, some say that it came about because the first prototypes were poorly fastened; thus, they would jump around as the carriage moved. Others claim that the name originated with carriage staff who were being unexpectedly inspected by their higher-ups which they termed as being “jumped.”
As airplanes increased in size and commercial aviation became commonplace following WWII, airlines continued to struggle to get their staff from one place to another. When they raised this concern to aircraft manufacturers, engineers responded with a simple solution: airplane jumpseats. They were located in the cockpit just behind the two pilots and flight engineers. Shortly after, additional jumpseats were added in the main cabin.
Originally, airplane jumpseats could be used by almost anyone, ranging from close friends and family of the crew to journalists and obviously, extra pilots and crew. Unfortunately, the 9/11 attacks forced the FAA to place overhaul restrictions on nearly all aspects of flights. Today, only extra pilots, airline staff, or government observers are allowed to ride in the cockpit jumpseat.
Two Types of Jumpseats
To meet the wide ranging needs of airlines, aircraft manufacturers offer two types of airplane jumpseats. The first type is the cockpit jumpseat which is behind the operating pilots, by the cockpit door. Generally, these seats are occupied by fellow pilots, government officials or other airline representatives. The second type is the main cabin jumpseat located at the front of the main cabin and is taken up by flight crew.
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