Composite materials and other combustible materials have increasingly been used in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft or to improve the passenger comfort. However, these materials raised the fire load significantly. Although these materials have passed the certification tests, it has been necessary to study and assess fire risks for relevant areas, specific zones of the aircraft and the entire aircraft.
The AIRCRAFTFIRE project aimed at an increase of passenger survivability during major fire scenarios such as in-flight fires and post-crash fires. The focus was on the next generation of aircrafts.
Existing and validated simulation tools were adapted to the project. At the start of this project, the simulation of fire propagation and evacuation in aeronautics suffered from a lack of data on material properties and fire behaviour. Relevant data necessary for the proposed advanced simulation which was not available was be gained by experiments. Beside the provision of physical and chemical data a sound analysis of existing data bases maintained by aviation authority, airline and aircraft manufacturer in order to identify and classify the relevant fire related scenarios for in-flight and post-crash fires was to provide the second basis for the improved simulation.
The project analysed the sensing capacities and deployment of the relevant sensors aboard aircraft and made use of advanced sensor data fusion to increase the overall performances. Combined with the results of the simulation of fire propagation, it allowed for the recommendation of improvements for the aircraft operation in case of fire related incidents. Together with the results of the advanced evacuation simulation, the results of the project directly influenced the design of the next generation of aircraft with respect to fire prevention and fire management.
The consortium (composed of aircraft manufacturer, aviation authority, research establishments and universities) undertook the necessary efforts to make the knowledge gained available to all relevant parties to achieve the project objectives.
At the beginning of the project the repartition and the coordination of researchers was defined. The project was then focused on the definition of tasks in terms of selection of fire scenarios, and flammability and burning property of materials. In particular, it defined the generic aircraft fire scenarios to study, the composites and cabin materials to characterise, the aircraft mapping to consider for fire growth and evacuation numerical simulation, and the tools to transform research results into industrial innovation. In this context great attention was given to impose identical experimental protocols for characterisation by laboratories, description of fire behaviour and numerical techniques in agreement with the requirement of downstream safety applications.
The experimental setups to determine the burning behaviour of composite and cabin materials was designed, in agreement with the chosen scenarios. Specific and original setups were realised to study the effect of pressure, mass fraction of oxygen, loading, containment (hidden zone) on the burning rate of aircraft materials. After the supply of cabin and composite materials, the AcF material characterisation was started. Some experimental setups were evaluated at a later stage.
The numerical works, pool fire simulation, fire growth and evacuation modelling were prepared for the integration of experimental measurements of flammability data and fire behaviour. Simulations were run and first numerical results were made available.
The provision of the identified relevant materials formed a real obstacle for the project and its finances.
Due to this complication of the delivery of composites for fuselage, wing, structure and cowling, and of the identification of cabin material providers, the experimental study of materials got a delay of nearly 6 months. During this time preliminary tests on a well-known polymer (PMMA) were performed to calibrate the apparatus, harmonise the experimental protocols between laboratories (Round Robin tests for cone calorimeter and TGA) and to evaluate the efficiency of apparatus (FTIR, DSC, Tube Furnace, Smoke characterisation system, detection sensor). Most of these tests were finished and their results discussed.
An efficient and integrated mobility system:
- Secure Transport
- Acting on transport safety: saving thousands of lives
- Service quality and reliability