Have you ever wondered why airplane seats can be used as floatation devices? As it turns out, the seat you sit on in an airplane contains a material also commonly found in boat cushions, allowing you to use your airplane seat as a life raft should your flight have to make a water landing. It’s called polyurethane, and it’s present in many items used in sports and travel that are required to be light, resilient, and flexible.
Also known as boat foam, polyurethane foam is just one form that polyurethane can take. In all its forms, polyurethane is extremely light and hard-wearing, allowing it to be used in a variety of products likely to be subjected to extreme wear and tear. You can find it in airplane seats, but also in airplane wings, surfboards, and children’s toys. When used in airplane seats, polyurethane foam is attached to a light aluminum frame. This keeps the entire structure both sturdy and light, enabling it to float in water if necessary, according to The Foam Factory.
Because it is so light and resilient, polyurethane is also used for yacht cushions. This means that, should a cushion fall overboard, it will float. However, unlike other types of foam, it won’t be damaged as readily by water. Also, because it is so durable, it will withstand extended use without losing its shape or wearing out.