ok, so I've got the jet, what now?

Are you are the proud owner of a privately owned jet aircraft?

Yes?, then you are a very lucky person, and I love you very much and want your babies,  I would love a flight in it...pretty please!!!

Are you allowed to have a live ejector seat in that plane?

Are you allowed to have a live airbag in your car?! Of course you are...It was designed with the seat as part of the aircraft. If you take the seat out what do you sit on? Would you fly without undercarriage or an engine? If the aircraft is aerobatic capable it is recommended by the CAA that you retain the live seats. In all cases the parachute must be operable. The canopy must be removable and in most jets you wont be able to remove the hood without some form of assistance and its usually incorporated into the ejection sequence. You will not be able to punch a hole in the canopy with your fists.

There have been many instances in the last few years where civilian registered ex military jets have fallen from the sky and the crew's lives have been saved by ejection seats.

Current regulations will make it difficult to obtain a certificate of airworthiness without "live" seats if the seats formed part of the original design of the aircraft.

Do you have to know how it works?

The chances are that if you are cleared to fly an ex military jet then you will know how the seat works. If you don't, then you should really find out....... pronto.  If you are a passenger then there is an onus on the owner / pilot to ensure that you are aware how to use the seat and will in all probability give you a ground lecture on a seat in a hanger prior to take-off. Finding out how it works when you need it is not recommended.

What are the rules and regulations?

Believe it or not there are no hard and fast rules. However if your jet has a swept wing or originally had an ejection seat fitted the chances of getting out of it when things go pear shaped are pretty remote unless you have a live seat.

Current regulations will make it difficult to obtain a certificate of airworthiness without "live" seats if the seats formed part of the original design of the aircraft.

Do you need special certificates?

No. JUST DON'T POINT IT AT ANY ONE. In all seriousness make sure that whoever services your seat knows what they are doing. If they claim to be certified by anyone ...check. Get a certificate issued by the servicing agents stating that they have done what they say they have done. Talk to other jet owners and ask their opinion. Get recommendations from other jet owners.

What about passengers? (Disregard this question if you own a single seat a/c)

If you are the skipper then a thorough pre flight briefing should include full emergency procedures and these would include the ejection seat. If you are the passenger and these points are not covered, then you should ask. If your pilot utters the words "EJECT, EJECT", don't ask "What?" as the chances are he will have already gone without you..

So where do I get my seat seen to?

There is only one company who will do a certified job on Martin Baker seats in the UK and that is SES ltd. No, I am not related or an employee, but they do a first class job.

 Parachutes, dinghies, SARBE's (survival beacons), lifejackets and other related survival equipment is also serviced and purchasable from SES Ltd. Give Del (one L) a bell or e-mail him on del@ses-safety.com . They too are Martin Baker Certified and are the only people in the UK to get this certification for servicing these items.

If you are after parts for a cockpit restoration, give me a call as there are a lot of bits out there and I may know someone who has the bits you need. If you don't ask you don't get!!

Are they expensive to maintain?

If that seat has not been serviced in the last 10 to 15 years then it will need a major service with all the "software" (straps, packs, and chutes etc) probably need checking and replacing or at least checking thoroughly. All the pyrotechnic kit on the seat will need replacing at the end of its timed life with up to 10 cartridges on some later seats, and all the mechanical systems resetting or servicing. All this could initially seem a tad expensive, but what is your life worth? This will get your seat certified as serviceable and thereafter, periodic maintenance will be much cheaper and ensure its serviceability.

IF YOU OWN AN EX MILITARY JET WITH AN EJECTOR SEAT FITTED THEN I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU AND ANY STORIES ABOUT THE CIVILIAN PROBLEMS OF OWNING AN EJECTION SEAT EQUIPPED AIRCRAFT.