Six Flags announces restraint changes to Superman coasters
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 1:09 PM | Contributed by Jeff
Six Flags announced today that it would shorten the seat belt length on the various Superman roller coasters following the death of a man that was tossed from the ride at Six Flags New England. The similar rides at Darien Lake and Six Flags America will get the same treatement.
But, read the whole release because they are looking at doing more than that. They are looking at making changes to the lap bar and the seat to better secure riders. I think they needed to get a quick response out to the public and the most obvious and easily handled is the seatbelt.
The question is will that satisfy the State(s)? If it does, the rides could reopen fairly quickly. If it doesn't the re-engineering of the seat and lab bar may take much longer.
I'm still not sure making the seatbelts shorter is going to fix everything. Ride ops will still need to be on the lookout for lapbars to be against the riders thighs. As I said in another thread, it is possible (although rare) for a rider to have a waist small enough for the seatbelts to fit around and still have a gut large enough to prevent the lapbar from coming down to their thighs.
Making the seatbelt shorter is a great start, but Six Flags will still need to make sure that employees are trained well enough to ensure that the lapbar is in the proper position. Otherwise it could come down to the rider being held in only by the seatbelt.
I've seen odd unusual shaped riders before at Millennium Force, and have had to ask them not to ride even though the seatbelt will fasten. It's not a common situation, but it sometimes happens.
"...We also are looking into extending the seat bottoms forward to improve rider position and further enhance the effectiveness of the restraints. By extending the seat bottom, we will help ensure riders maintain the proper position for the duration of the ride cycle."
Well, it's about time.
My prediction: Take a Dragster seat and lap bar, remove the headrest, and you've got a new Superman seat.
It looks like Six Flags is going to do this right.
It is much easier to say no if you have a test seat outside the line and someone there to help them make the call before they get in line. They will have a lot of upset people if they allow people to wait in line that were able to ride before that cannot anymore.
Reviewing operating procedures and training will take care of the problem this season. But what happens when they change crews again next season? Retention of experienced crews should become a priority as well so that knowledgebase is passed on from crew to crew.
On the topic of the test seat, I have always been of the opinion that these seats need not be right out in public. Most parks have nearby back-stage areas where they could escort a guest to see if they will adequately fit in the seat and can be secured. I am not in this position myself but I don't care for larger people having to be put on display in front of crowds either.
Rihard: Read it again. They are not just changing the seat belt lengths. They are also making changes to address the problems Mr. Altoff described so well in rrc. Obviously I'd have an opinion if it was just the seatbelts, I'm wondering how long it's going to take to make the other modifications.
I'll be at SFNE in 1 week, SFA on June 1 and SFDL in the beginning of September. My personal guess is I won't be getting on SFNE's Superman, maybe on SFA's and definitely on SFDL's.
Regardless, it sounds like they are making smart changes.
EDIT: After reading Mr. Noble's post maybe I'm the one that needs to read it again. Oh well, I'll keep my fingers crossed.*** This post was edited by rdreaming 5/7/2004 2:58:33 PM ***
rdreaming, I guess I was under the same impression that Noble is. But really the Six Flags statement didn't specify either way. I think what it will come down to is what the state inspectors will accept. I imagine if the state says the shorter seatbelts are good enough, Six Flags will open the ride with just the seatbelt changes, and work on the rest of the re-design later. You never know though.
At this point, plan on all three SROS being closed for some time. If Six Flags is smart they're going to take their time and do the fix right. If you have plans to visit SFDL, SFNE, or SFA in the near future you have two choices: accept the fact that you probably won't be riding Superman or change your plans until you know for sure they're open.
*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 5/7/2004 3:16:54 PM ***