These ejector seats allowed a pilot or passenger to eject from a doomed ship and wait for rescue or reach a nearby planet. They were also used within planetary atmospheres. Nearly all types had rockets to provide an initial boost away from the stricken craft. Some were equipped with parachutes for a soft landing in an atmosphere environment.
Ejector seats were not entirely safe though, sometimes the pilot could get caught in the starfighter, or, in the case of Derek Klivian, collide with another ship. That could result in serious injury or death. Also, the pilot was left vulnerable to the vacuum of space with little protection other than a flight suit, whereas in an escape pod, ample supplies of food, water, and air were all available. It was important to have rescue and recovery vehicles nearby to retrieve ejected pilots, who could often become lost in the vastness of space.
Primarily, ejector seats served to provide for the survival of pilots, who were seen as more valuable and harder to replace than fighters. To that end variations of escape pod/ejector seat combinations were tried out, one design being utilized in the BTL-S8 K-wing assault starfighter, which had a dual cockpit design that could be entirely separated from the fighter's main body.
Some versions of B-wings, could also have the whole cockpit separated, transforming it into a small pod.
Behind the scenesEdit
During the scenes of the Millennium Falcon being pursued through the asteroid field, tiny figures that are TIE Fighter pilots can supposedly be seen ejecting from their fighters just moments after colliding with asteroids and exploding.