The Wikipedia article for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft mentions an escape tunnel:

The avionics and engines were also upgraded, and an escape tunnel system similar to that used on Boeing's first 747 test flights was added. The flight crew escape tunnel system was later removed following the completion of the Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) due to concerns over possible engine ingestion of an escaping crew member.

What is this escape tunnel? Who was intended to escape: someone in the orbiter, or someone in the SCA? Are there pictures?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it would be better suited for Aviation Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean that's not a reason to vote to close. If a question is on-topic here, it stays here unless the OP specifically requests migration. It seems to be on-topic here as it specifically about space support equipment. It's no different than asking about launch pad construction or the computer systems at Houston. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


Addressing the "Are there pictures?" part of the question.

enter image description here

From the Space Shuttle Orbiter Approach and Landing Test Final Evaluation Report


It was on the airplane, not the shuttle, see this NASA article:

A crew escape tunnel was installed aboard NASA 747 aircraft number 905 (NASA 905) during the aircraft's modification process for the Shuttle program. The tunnel extended down three decks, from the flight deck to the bottom left side of the fuselage. In a catastrophic emergency, the parachute-clad pilots and flight engineer would activate explosives that would blow a hole through the fuselage for bail-out. Next, they would slide down and out the hole, escaping into the air below the airplane. Activation of the tunnel hole explosives also activated pyrotechnic devices designed to blow out 10 windows above each wing in order to equalize the on-board air pressure allowing the crew to slide down the tunnel. However… this escape system might have led into the inboard engine inlet, obviously not a good thing! The escape tunnel system was removed from the aircraft following completion of the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) project.

The shuttle Enterprise was used for the atmospheric ALT, it had ejection seats for the crew. There was no way to get between the SCA and the shuttle.


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