Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP5

VERRES Report Summary

Project ID: 10968
Funded under: FP5-GROWTH
Country: United Kingdom

Support JAA regulation improvement

The purpose of Very Large Transport Aircraft (VLTA) Emergency Requirements Research Evacuation Study (VERRES) was to investigate many issues relating to post-accident survivability of larger aircraft in the future. A particular focus was on evacuation issues with detailed investigation of the role of computer models.

Conventional evacuation certification procedures incur a significant risk of personal injury to the participants (on average 6% are injured) and large costs (approximately US$2 million for a wide-body aircraft). Furthermore, as only a single evacuation trial is necessary for certification requirements, there can be limited confidence that the test - whether successful or not - truly represents the evacuation capability of the aircraft. The issue of the test being potentially unrepresentative is, however, recognised but nevertheless plays an important part as a yardstick for comparison with other aircraft design that may have more extensive evacuation experience. The large increase in passenger capacity and aircraft size being suggested for VLTA exacerbate these difficulties.

The introduction of computer based analysis techniques coupled with partial practical testing using people offer the potential of reducing all of these risks and costs while making the certification process arguably more rigorous.

Computer based analysis techniques coupled with partial testing have a role to play in the following areas:
- Design and development of safer aircraft bringing safety matters to the design phase while the proposed aircraft is still on the drawing board.
- Implementation of safer and more rigorous certification criteria.
- Development of improved and more efficient crew procedures.
- Improved cabin crew training.
- Accident investigation.

VERRES includes results of the first evacuation research trials of large double-deck aircraft (using the Cranfield University VLTA cabin simulator).
These were intended to provide data for evacuation models, particularly related to the use of stairs. These exploratory trials were able to provide an indication of the many issues involved and provided useful pointers for future, more detailed investigations.

During the development of the test plan for the experimental trials, the VERRES consortium identified a large number of potential variables of interest, and it became evident that it would be difficult for the consortium to limit the number of independent variables. It was therefore decided that the trials would explore a wide range of possibilities for future research within very large transport aircraft, as opposed to studying a limited number of issues in detail.

For this reason the VERRES experimental study was exploratory in nature and the results presented within the report are by no means conclusive, but do highlight issues where future research should be considered.

Cabin crew views of potential problems with managing large numbers of passengers in an emergency situation were collated, highlighting the need for clear information on the cabin situation to be effectively communicated between the crew. The study notes areas that may require amended cabin crew training, for example with substantial numbers of passengers likely to be at the foot of large slides that will require effective management. Safety communication is not restricted to crew and the study concludes that passenger safety briefing may need to be enhanced for evacuation in potentially complex cabin interiors.

The study compares aircraft evacuation with other forms of transport, for example the evacuation of a blended wing VLTA may be similar to a fast ferry with multiple aisles. The aircraft evacuation situation is however unique in the need for a very fast evacuation resulting from the fire threat that is not found to the same level in other forms of transport, or indeed buildings.

The study includes a review of techniques that may be considered for crew training for managing large numbers of passengers in emergency situations.
The topics include crew co-ordination, communication and enhancing situational awareness.

The developments commenced here will play a vital role in the safe evacuation of future Very Large Transport Aircraft.

Contact

Graham GREENE, (Project Manager)
Tel.: +44-1293573462
E-mail
Record Number: 31032 / Last updated on: 2004-01-16
Information source: e-TIP
Collaboration sought: Available for consultancy, Further research or development support, Information exchange/Training, Private-public partnership
Stage of development: Scientific and/or technical knowledge (basic research), Prototype/demonstrator available for testing