Federation Starship Designs Unsafe!an Editorial by Rob Reid (Physical Review T)
For the last few decades Federation starship designers have been patting themselves on the back over how safe their designs are. They point out that their ships are quantum singularity free, unlike Romulan ships, and they become especially smug when discussing the saucer separation capability of the Galaxy class.
Their bridges, however, are deathtraps! How many more helmsbeings and navigators must be burned to crisps by unnecessarily dangerous consoles before something is done? It is an occurrence that is all too familiar: as soon as a starship encounters any turbulence or enemy fire the helm and/or navigation consoles will explode, frying their operators. Not only is this flaw the leading cause of death in non-red-shirt-wearing starfleet personnel, but it invariably requires the first officer to operate what is left of the console when s/he/it is needed somewhere else. This defect has been around since at least the Constitution class, and has persisted in the latest design (Intrepid class, launched Stardate 48038.5, or 2371 A.D.). The Federation designers defend themselves by noting that Romulan and Klingon ships also have this flaw, but can there be any excuse for routing 8 terawatts through any bridge console? Of course, it goes without saying that these consoles should also have airbags. At least the Captain’s chair (at least on Constitution class ships) has a seatbelt.