Monday, January 30, 2006

We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Evacuating the Airbus A380

One thing that's on the minds of a lot of Airbus watchers is the upcoming emergency evacuation certification test for the A380. Although a test date has not been scheduled, it's some months off at least. An entire maximum capacity interior will have to be installed in the A380 completion center in Germany, about 800 or so average folks will have to be rounded up for the Big Show, not all the doors will be available, and they'll have to all clear out and down the slides in less than ninety seconds.

The last large evacuation test I heard about was on the MD11, which yielded a fair amount of bruises, scrapes and burns on the nether parts of some folks who went down the slides. One participant was rendered a paraplegic when she went down the slide face first and crashed into some other passengers. As it happened, the MD11 did not get certified for the full load, but only managed 407 or something like that which was, in fact, pretty close to the maximum.

The A380 evacuation test for the money promises to be a hair raising event for a lot of reasons, not the least of which will be the height that upper deck passengers will have to descend.

There is a most interesting article that has been published in this context by Martyn Amos and Andrew Wood, two computer scientists at the University of Exeter, in which they conclude through computer modeling that even a modest delay in getting people through the door and down the slide will cause the A380 to fail the 90 second "all out" requirement.

There is a link to the complete article at the address below

One thing I'm also interested in is the emergency door mechanisms. On the MD11 the passenger doors were plug type doors that were not attached to the structure and retracted to the overhead by way of electric motors and windlasses. In an emergency, "blowing the door" would trigger a nitrogen bottle that operated a very powerful motor. When the handle was pulled the door was going to open, VERY rapidly and nothing was going to stop it.

From the photos I've seen the A380 doors are similar to what Boeing uses-they open outward and are attached to the fuselage. Emergency power is apparently electric, as there have been reports of contracts let for high duty capacitors to power the door in the event of a power failure.


Post a Comment

<< Home