The seats in the T-38 planes are currently being replaced to increase pilot safety, because their have been fatal ejections when using the old model. Sheppard Air Force Base officials said, the new seats and proper ejection saved the lives of the pilots involved in Friday's plane crash.
The T-38 Talon plane, like the one involved in Friday's plane crash, has a history of seat ejection issues. The seats were complicated to deploy and presented potential risks to pilots in distress.
Captain Jamilee Lambert of the 80th Operations Support Squadron said, "There have been fatal ejections from the T-38...These news seats could reduce the risk ejection carries with it."
Those new ejection seats are more reliable models, they are safer and easier to deploy and offer an increased chance of survival. Colonel Lance Bunch said in a press conference Friday, that they have more safety features.
"This particular aircraft has recently been upgraded with a new ejection seat from Martin Baker. And it allows a wider range, a wider safety range for the aircraft and the air crew," said Col. Bunch.
The new seat is a Zero-Zero seat, which means the pilot could eject from zero feet altitude at zero velocity and be safe. In the old model, pilot's in the same scenario could be killed trying to eject.
"The seat comes out and depending on the altitude above the ground is how quick the chute, parachute deploys. In this case it was very quickly and they were able to land safely," said Col. Bunch.
The upgrades to the seats cost over 184 million dollars. "The new seats could save a pilot's life, and to us that's worth the cost," said Cpt. Lambert.
"We're very fortunate that both pilots ejected safely. The aircraft worked, the safety equipment worked as we would hope that it did," said Col. Bunch. Sheppard A.F.B. officials said, both pilots ejected properly from the plane.
The upgrades to the T-38 seats are credited for helping to save the lives of those two pilots. The remaining T-38 planes are expected to be equipped with the new seats by November of this year.