One of my colleagues brought up an interesting topic at one of our weekly meetings a few weeks ago, in response to a video that had been watched, which depicted the evacuation test of an Airbus A380. (Click here to watch the video.
) The questions raised were as follows:
“The certification test for evacuation in case of an emergency landing requires the evacuation of the aircraft in 90 seconds. That sounds nice, but what is happening in reality? How would normal people behave when they hear that they need to evacuate the aircraft? How is the evacuation of invalids attended to by the crew? What about infants? What about the elderly? How many seconds do they need to get out of the aircraft? How are the seats for invalids allocated inside the cabin? What should people do after they are evacuated from the aircraft? What shouldn’t they do?”
They are all valid questions, and they needed a few good days of pondering before I could formulate even a wisp of a response. I am going to take my pick of questions, however, and focus on how people would feel performing an evacuation test as opposed to surviving an emergency landing an evacuating an aircraft in a real-life, uncontrolled situation, and analyze the psychology behind such an evacuation.
In addition to design rules such as those governing the 18.3m (60ft) minimum spacing of exits on the same side and the same deck is a performance-based requirement commonly known as the "90-second certification test."
Compliance with this rule is demonstrated by performing a full-scale evacuation demonstration, performed in darkness, using only half of the normally available exits and a population that satisfies an age and gender mix specified in the rules, selected by the manufacturer and approved by the regulatory authority.
Crew and passengers do not know beforehand which exits will be made available. The test involves evacuating all passengers and crew to the ground (using slides if fitted) within 90 seconds.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the current regulations regarding the emergency evacuation of a large aircraft, for example, I have taken the liberty of posting the following sections 25.803 and the corresponding Appendix J:
“Sec. 25.803 Emergency Evacuation.
[(a) Each crew and passenger area must have emergency means to allow rapid evacuation in crash landings, with the landing gear extended as well as with the landing gear retracted, considering the possibility of the airplane being on fire.
(c) For airplanes having a seating capacity of more than 44 passengers, it must be shown that the maximum seating capacity, including the number of crewmembers required by the operating rules for which certification is requested, can be evacuated from the airplane to the ground under simulated emergency conditions within 90 seconds. Compliance with this requirement must be shown by actual demonstration using the test criteria outlined in Appendix J of this part unless the Administrator finds that a combination of analysis and testing will provide data equivalent to that which would be obtained by actual demonstration.
Amdt. 25-72, Eff. 8/20/90”
“Appendix J: Emergency Evacuation
The following test criteria and procedures must be used for showing compliance with Sec. 25.803:
[ (a) The emergency evacuation must be conducted with exterior ambient light levels of no greater than 0.3 foot-candles prior to the activation of the airplane emergency lighting system. The source(s) of the initial exterior ambient light level may remain active or illuminated during the actual demonstration. There must, however, be no increase in the exterior ambient light level except for that due to activation of the airplane emergency lighting system. ]
(b) The airplane must be in a normal attitude with landing gear extended.
(c) Unless the airplane is equipped with an off-wing descent means, stands or ramps may be used for descent from the wing to the ground. Safety equipment such as mats or inverted life rafts may be placed on the floor or ground to protect participants. No other equipment that is not part of the emergency evacuation equipment of the airplane may be used to aid the participants in reaching the ground.
(d) Except as provided in paragraph (a) of this Appendix, only the airplane's emergency lighting system may provide illumination.
(e) All emergency equipment required for the planned operation of the airplane must be installed.
[ (f) Each internal door or curtain must be in the takeoff configuration.]
(g) Each crewmember must be seated in the normally assigned seat for takeoff and must remain in the seat until receiving the signal for commencement of the demonstration. Each crewmember must be a person having knowledge of the operation of exits and emergency equipment and, if compliance with Sec. 121.291 is also being demonstrated, each flight attendant must be a member of a regularly scheduled line crew.
(h) A representative passenger load of persons in normal health must be used as follows:
(1) At least 40 percent of the passenger load must be female.
(2) At least 35 percent of the passenger load must be over 50 years of age.
(3) At least 15 percent of the passenger load must be female and over 50 years of age.
(4) Three life-size dolls, not included as part of the total passenger load, must be carried by passengers to simulate live infants 2 years old or younger.
(5) Crewmembers, mechanics, and training personnel, who maintain or operate the airplanes in the normal course of their duties, may not be used as passengers.
(i) No passenger may be assigned a specific seat except as the Administrator may require. Except as required by subparagraph (g) of this paragraph, no employee of the applicant may be seated next to an emergency exit.
(j) Seat belts and shoulder harnesses (as required) must be fastened.
(k) Before the start of the demonstration, approximately one-half of the total average amount of carry-on baggage, blankets, pillows, and other similar articles must be distributed at several locations in aisles and emergency exit access ways to create minor obstructions.
(l) No prior indication may be given to any crewmember or passenger of the particular exits to be used in the demonstration.
(m) The applicant may not practice, rehearse, or describe the demonstration for the participants nor may any participant have taken part in this type of demonstration within the preceding 6 months.
[(n) Prior to entering the demonstration aircraft, the passengers may also be advised to follow directions of crewmembers but may not be instructed on the procedures to be followed in the demonstration, except with respect to safety procedures in place for the demonstration or which have to do with the demonstration site. Prior to the start of the demonstration, the pre-takeoff passenger briefing required by Sec. 121.571 may be given. Flight attendants may assign demonstration subjects to assist persons from the bottom of a slide, consistent with their approved training program.
(o) The airplane must be configured to prevent disclosure of the active emergency exits to demonstration participants in the airplane until the start of the demonstration.
(p) Exits used in the demonstration must consist of one exit from each exit pair. The demonstration may be conducted with the escape slides, if provided, inflated and the exits open at the beginning of the demonstration. In this case, all exits must be configured such that the active exits are not disclosed to the occupants. If this method is used, the exit preparation time for each exit utilized must be accounted for, and exits that are not to be used in the demonstration must not be indicated before the demonstration has started. The exits to be used must be representative of all of the emergency exits on the airplane and must be designated by the applicant, subject to approval by the Administrator. At least one floor level exit must be used.]
(q) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, all evacuees must leave the airplane by a means provided as part of the airplane's equipment.
(r) The applicant's approved procedures must be fully utilized, except the flightcrew must take no active role in assisting others inside the cabin during the demonstration.
(s) The evacuation time period is completed when the last occupant has evacuated the airplane and is on the ground. Provided that the acceptance rate of the stand or ramp is no greater than the acceptance rate of the means available on the airplane for descent from the wing during an actual crash situation, evacuees using stands or ramps allowed by paragraph (c) of this Appendix are considered to be on the ground when they are on a stand or ramp.
Amdt. 25-117, Eff. 12/17/2004”
When evacuating an aircraft, there are two goals: ‘get out first’ and ‘get out alive;’ self-preservation is key. It is very much like what they tell you in the event of the oxygen masks falling from the Passenger Service Unit, “Be sure to put your mask on before helping those around you.”
This is certainly not the case when a new aircraft type is being certified, and is determined to be safe based on a ‘pass or fail as part of a one-off full-scale live evacuation test that centers on an orchestrated 90s dash by several hundred primed and able-bodied volunteers.’ (Aimee Turner, 2008)
An excerpt from a similar article in Flight International magazine (Aimee Turner, 22AUG2008
) shows that the differences between a controlled environment evacuation and a real situation have been noted, and commented upon in the field of aerospace psychology. Professor Helen Muir sums up the differences nicely:
‘Professor Helen Muir, professor of aerospace psychology at Cranfield University, has led many collaborative programmes with manufacturers and regulatory authorities, on both sides of the Atlantic. She believes there is an undoubted role in the future for simulation, although she argues that it is not the sole answer as modelling cannot claim to simulate all aspects of emergency behaviour.
"I see the way forward as being some sort of combination of simulation and testing because new configurations and new sorts of behaviour have to be tested," Muir says. "One of the challenges will remain getting a realistic test without putting an individual at any physical or mental danger. I mean, at the end of the day, how could anyone really test for the real panic experienced by real passengers?"
She points out that there is widespread support for full-scale trials by cabin crew unions, the critical personnel in any evacuation. "A lot of what really happens not only depends on how frightened the passengers are, but, critically, how cabin crew perform. It is important that they are assertive, take command, both vocally and by even sometimes giving the passenger a push out of the aircraft."’
It is certain that in the event of a real accident and evacuation, the varying effects of trauma and panic, and the physical effects of smoke, fire, and debris, clearly affect the passengers and crew, and the evacuation times. While we can talk about an evacuation procedure and everyone having survived, there are minor injuries sustained by evacuating passengers.
Take, for example, the Hapag Lloyd A310 which crash landed in Vienna on July 12th
, 2000. None of the 151 occupants on board the aircraft were injured, but during the evacuation process, 26 persons received minor injuries. In contrast, however, a British Airways A319 evacuated its 80 occupants, who all escaped without injuries.
There are three major components during an evacuation: aircraft, crew, and passengers. The particulars lay in the aircraft configuration, exit availability, and cabin behavior. If one is changed, the outcome of the evacuation is changed as well. Despite any well-organized, well thought out plan, the slightest hitch can lead to an unlimited number of possibilities of outcome.
In the end, there is no way to predict human behavior in the event of an emergency. There are no computer models which can simulate an evacuation, yet. There is no way to say for certain that what happens during a single-time, full-scale, controlled-environment test is what will happen during an evacuation of that particular type of aircraft.
I am still on the hunt for various topics on which to write my article each month. If you have a suggestion, or simply a question you would like answered, please do not hesitate to drop me a line and write an email. I can be reached by clicking on this link: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Notice of Proposed Amendments (NPAs)
END OF COMMENT
Specific risk and standardised criteria for conducting aeroplane-level safety assessments of critical systems
Carriage of Special Categories of Passengers (SCP)
Amendment of requirements for flight recorders and underwater locating devices
Revision of operational approval criteria for performance-based navigation (PBN)
Requirements for apron management services at aerodromes
Additional airworthiness specifications for operations: Fire Hazard in Class D cargo compartments
The FAA Moves on Sleep Apnea and Obesity
The FAA is moving ahead with implementation of mandatory screening and tests (apparently regardless of widely reported objections) for obstructive sleep apnea in pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, the agency said Thursday. Individuals are typically categorized as obese by current BMI charts if they score a number higher than 30. AOPA, EAA, the Civil Aviation Medical Association and members of the U.S. House of Representatives are among those who have requested the FAA make substantive changes to lessen the impact of its new sleep apnea policy. The FAA would require additional medical evaluations for those pilots determined to be outside of the FAA’s safe (under 40 BMI) range. Pilots scoring 40 or higher would have 60 days to receive an evaluation or have their medical certificate disqualified.
The FAA categorizes more than 120,000 pilots with a BMI of greater than 30 as obese, according to AOPA, and 5,000 pilots have a BMI of 40 or greater. Some objections to the FAA’s new policy say it forces AMEs to employ predictive medicine. Others are concerned with the potential backlog it will add to an existing backlog for special issuance medicals. Many objections, including recommendations from the House, aim to push the FAA’s policy change through the normal rulemaking process, to allow for public input. The FAA has stated that its new approach to sleep apnea screening is a “process enhancement,” not a policy change, and therefore does not need to be subjected to the normal rulemaking process. AOPA has already followed up with further objections. The Civil Aviation Medical Association, which represents FAA aviation medical examiners, wrote in a formal letter to the FAA sent earlier this month, “Education of the many would have far greater public health impact than regulation of the few.”
Textron AirLand says response from military and paramilitary organizations to the first flight of its Scorpion tactical jet has been overwhelmingly positive and the twin jet may appear at airshows this coming season. Dale Tutt, the chief engineer on the project, told AVweb in a podcast interview the Scorpion, which will cost "somewhere south of $20 million" and about $3,000 an hour to operate, fills a performance and price gap in the military aircraft market that no one else is filling. "Having an airplane that's affordable in those lower threat environments really makes a lot of sense," he said. He noted the Air Force and other military powers around the world are currently using supersonic fighters at great expense in places like Afghanistan where there is no real airborne threat and the Scorpion's 450-knot "dash," five hours of loitering endurance and the ability to carry a wide variety of weapons give it the mix of capabilities needed for that environment at much lower cost.
Tutt said the aircraft was designed to incorporate as much "off the shelf" and "mature" technologies as possible to reduce development time and cost. Some of the systems are borrowed from Cessna's Citation line of business jets. The aircraft is built around a pod that can be adapted to hold everything from surveillance cameras to laser-guided bombs and is the heart of the aircraft's mission profile flexibility.
QCM Campus Stage 2
Progress continues! During December, work had slowed marginally, owing to the Christmas holidays and time away from work. As January begins, work is full throttle again, and there are high hopes for completion of the build in March. The interior of the hotel rooms and offices are taking exceptional shape, and the building looks fantastic.
There's a giant bottle of Champagne waiting to be opened on the anticipated, special occasion.
The upside to arriving early to work are the sunrises. Most people might cringe at the hour, but I find the colors to be the best reward for waking up!