A journalist on a familiarization flight gained an intimate understanding of a system even the most seasoned military pilots almost never touch when he was accidentally ejected from a two-seat Rafale fighter in France this week. The unidentified 64-year-old man suffered a serious back injury in his abrupt return to the runway at Saint-Dizier 113 air base on March 20. He’s expected to be OK. The pilot was able to keep control of his suddenly open-cockpit jet and land safely. He had some cuts on his hands from the canopy glass but was otherwise uninjured.
A host of agencies are now investigating and they still haven’t said whether the seat launched because of a malfunction, an accidental deployment or if it was intentional. The seat is made by a joint venture between Safran and Martin Baker. The passenger would have received training on the operation and deployment of the seat prior to the flight. This Martin Baker compilation of ejection seat tests gives some idea of what the passenger experienced.