In aircraft as well as automotive technology, the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) is being used as an assessment value for head injuries in accidents. However, the applicability of HIC for measuring various kinds of head impacts is questioned, and is considered insufficient to represent passive safety assessment criteria for aircraft. In contrast, a broader range of assessment criteria is common in the automotive industry, both for measuring injuries of passengers and for assessing the cabin interior of vehicles.
ICEPS aimed to develop new and improved evaluation criteria for passive safety in aircraft cabins, in order to increase passenger survivability in case of an emergency landing or crash. The study intends to propose further improvements to the existing European Joint Airworthiness Requirements (JAR) for transport aircraft.
The ICEPS project has:
- performed an accident analysis, with respect to injury mechanisms, covering two major crashes - at Warsaw Airport (Poland) involving an Airbus A320 in September 1993, and near Kegworth (UK) involving a Boeing B737-400 in January 1989;
- reviewed ECE regulations regarding the design and certification of aircraft cabin components, such as seats and their anchorage, seat pitch, restraint systems, or interior fittings;
- reviewed Joint Airworthiness Requirements for large aeroplanes (JAR 25) related to emergency landing conditions, crash test dummy testing, and evacuation procedures;
- examined modern passenger seats for two aircraft types - an Airbus A310 and a Boeing B737-400 - installed in typical seating configurations;
- evaluated cabin impact areas for the same two aircraft, corresponding to seat types and seat pitch;
- presented project findings to a number of JAA working groups at the German aviation authority LBA and Austro Control, and discussed possible changes to airworthiness regulations with members of these working groups;
- sketched proposals for improving passive safety in aircraft cabins, that would concern a variety of JARs, such as certification of passenger seats, evacuation procedures, or the installation of wall panelling in airliner cabins.
The study ICEPS concluded that further research into the bio-mechanical injuries of aircraft passengers is necessary. In particular, it is recommended that there is a need to extend accident analysis beyond technical and human factors, to related aspects of aircraft performance, handling and failure. Investigations into passive safety of passengers in a given emergency or crash situation is expected to improve the understanding of the correlation between accidents and injury mechanisms.