You my be strapping into your should harness seatbelt and finding comfort in the fact that, should it be needed, an air bag will deploy upon crashing, if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) decides in favor of the changes.

Federal safety officials are considering whether small planes should be equipped with air bags and shoulder harness seatbelts – life-saving technology that has benefitted motorists for decades.

The NTSB is set to release a study on Tuesday of 138 accidents involving planes equipped with air bags.

The report is expected to highlight several cases in which air bags were critical to the survival of the pilot or passengers.

There were 474 people killed in 1,474 general aviation accidents in 2009, the latest year for which NTSB figures are available. That includes all planes except scheduled airlines and military aircraft.

Air bags have been required in cars since the mid-1990s, and shoulder harness seatbelts even longer but not in small planes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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