Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Acquire knowledge of evacuation issues from double deck VLTA aircraft using computer simulation techniques

Very Large Transport Aircraft (VLTA) pose considerable challenges to designers, operators and certification authorities. Questions concerning seating arrangement, nature and design of recreational space, the number, design and location of internal staircases, the number of cabin crew required and the nature of the cabin crew emergency procedures is just some of the issues that need to be addressed. In this project the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) of the University of Greenwich investigated issues associated with staircase design and cabin crew procedures using the airEXODUS aircraft evacuation model, a product of FSEG. The full report will be made available on the FSEG web site at

As part of this study hypothetical VLTA identified as the UOGXXX, involving two decks and a passenger load of 580 passengers with a single main staircase was defined within the airEXODUS model.

While a number of evacuation cases were investigated, the primary evacuation studies addressed the scenario in which passengers from the upper deck were forced to make use of the main staircase in order to evacuate the aircraft

In the specific design investigated, it was shown that the two-lane staircase could not cope with the passenger flow generated by the two main cabin aisles resulting in a bottleneck at the head of the stairs and under-utilisation of the main deck exits. Suggestions for improving the overall evacuation time under such conditions include, widening the staircase or providing an additional staircase. If the staircase were widened, relocating the staircase to a more central location with access to additional lower deck exits would also be required in order to reap the full benefits afforded by additional stair capacity.

As part of these studies, it was demonstrated how crew procedures could be represented in aircraft evacuation models and how this could be used to assist in the development of crew procedures. It was demonstrated how enhanced crew communications would be essential in double deck aircraft if crew were expected to make optimal redirection decisions involving passengers moving between decks. It was suggested that enhanced crew communication systems such as head set devices would be a useful way of providing such information. These devices could provide crew useful information as to conditions in remote parts of the aircraft allowing them to make sensible redirection assessments.

An important issue that must be borne in mind is that gaps exist in our understanding of human behaviour and the quantification of human performance in some of the configurations examined. One of the areas that require further attention is the collection of passenger exit hesitation time data at high sill height exits. While some data exists, more data is required to increase the confidence in model predictions. Another area that requires attention is the performance of passengers on stairs in these types of aircraft. Also requiring further research is the propensity of passengers to freely elect to make use of the stairs rather than evacuate from the upper deck exits. In the work presented here, it was assumed that this would be similar to human performance on building stairs.

However, where data does not exist in abundance, models can still be usefully used to limit and refine the design concepts that may need further testing in experimental facilities. Clearly, a sensible balance of modelling and experimentation is required to address all of the challenging issues posed by VLTA aircraft.

Reported by

University of Greenwich
University of Greenwich 30 Park Row
SE 10 9 LS Greenwich
United Kingdom
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