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Crashworthiness for commercial aircraft

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Computer simulation of aircraft crashes has been carried out to enable crash investigators and aircraft designers and legislators to access a common method of developing aircraft crashworthiness and occupant protection. Large and small aircraft and helicopters (both civilian and military) have been included. Key areas of research involved in this project include: development and improvement of computer programs for structural analysis and occupant dynamics; development of virtual reality applications to computer simulation of structures under impact; development and improvement of new and existing materials and structural design methods for improved crash protection; understanding of biomechanical injury mechanisms and developing means to simulate (via computer software) and hence to improve levels of occupant protection. The work conducted so far has focussed on providing a practical working tool for the use of the accident analyst and the aircraft designer. One or all of the areas listed above could be further developed to enable the European aircraft industry to further increase levels of safety. This, in effect, would enable it to match the value of work which has been conducted in this area in North America over the past 20 years. It is possible that, as has occurred in the car industry, consumer interest in crash protection may grow to a point where manufacturers standards have to exceed legislative requirements, in order to obtain a competitive advantage. Development of technology of the type listed above would enable the European aircraft industry to compete to maximum advantage.

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