Ejector seats were a safety device built into most starships, particularly starfighters and combat airspeeders. An alternative to escape pods, ejector seats could not protect against the vacuum of space or the elements, simply propelling a pilot clear of a damaged vehicle.
Ejector seats allowed a pilot or passenger to evacuate from a doomed vehicle and wait for rescue or reach a nearby planet. They were also used within planetary atmospheres. Activated either manually or by a dead-man's switch, the seat would be launched from the vehicle by single-use, high-output ion engines. For atmospheric craft, the ejector seat was equipped with a parachute or a repulsorlift generator for a soft landing.
Ejector seats were not entirely safe; 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 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, 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 in The Empire Strikes Back, tiny figures that are TIE Fighter pilots can supposedly be seen ejecting from their fighters just moments after the fighters collide with asteroids and explode.
- The Star Wars Sourcebook (As "ejection seat")
- Starfighter Battle Book: X-wing vs TIE Interceptor (As "Ejector Seat")
- Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (As "Ejection Seat")
- Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, Second Edition
- Star Wars Sourcebook, Second Edition (As "ejection seat")
- Shadows of the Empire Planets Guide
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (As "ejection seat")
- Endless Vigil