Innovation: Fire Risks Assessment And Increase Of Passenger Survivability

Last update: 01.11.2013
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Keywords: 
information systems, aerospace technology, information processing, transport, systems analysis
The project aims for the increase of passenger survivability in the case of fire aboard aircraft focused on the next generation of aircraft. The composite materials and other combustible materials are increasingly used in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft or to higher the passenger comfort, but they raise the fire load significantly.

Although these materials have passed the certification tests, it is necessary to study and assess fire risks for relevant areas, specific zones of the aircraft and the entire aircraft. Existing and validated simulation tools will be adapted in the project. Today the simulation of fire propagation and evacuation in aeronautics suffers from lacking data of material properties and fire behaviour. Relevant data necessary for the proposed advanced simulation as far as not available will 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 will provide the second basis for the improved simulation.

The project will analyze the sensing capacities and deployment of the relevant sensors aboard aircraft and make use of advanced sensor data fusion to increase the overall performances. This together with the results of the simulation of fire propagation will allow recommending improvements for the aircraft operation in case of fire related incidents. Together with the result of the advanced evacuation simulation the results of the project will directly influence 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 will undertake the necessary efforts to make the gained knowledge available to all relevant parties to achieve the project objectives.

PROJECT GOALS:

Increase the passenger and crew survivability during in-flight and post-crash fires

Fire threat analysis:
• Analysis of aircraft incident/accident caused by fire or causing fire and its consequences on aircraft control, safe landing and passenger's survivability
• Identification of generic fire scenarios
• Selection of standard composites widely used in new generation of aircraft

Fire prevention:
• Determination of the composite material fire properties (flammability, ignition, smoke generation, combustion mechanisms, toxicity...) used for new generation of aircraft required to model fire and to prevent aircraft fire threats

Fire protection:
• Providing a numerical modelling (fire ignition, growth, smoke generation and motion, ..) of simplified fire configurations representative of real scenarios using the material property data previously determined
• Evaluation of fire detection and extinction systems to protect the aircraft in studied fire configurations

Fire simulation tools:
• Elaboration of a full scale modelling of fire evolution in the aircraft. This modelling requires, as input, the material properties and the knowledge of the fire behaviour obtained by the results of the modelling of generic scenarios
• Development of a numerical evacuation model.

Fire management:
• Synthesis of the experimental and numerical results
• Transfer of the conclusions to the fire and evacuation simulation software
• Aircraft fire safety improvement in civil aviation
The AIRCRAFTFIRE consortium is composed by 12 partners (9 from research, two from industry and one aviation authority). The project coordinator (CNRS), supported by the project manager (Fraunhofer) and the work package leaders performs the overall management and coordination of tasks. A Governing board (GB) is in charge of the scientific aspects of each laboratory and decides on finance and dissemination of the project.

The project coordinator has the responsibility to oversee the flow of information, to further encourage an animated communication and to take steps if difficulties arise. For that, the work plan has achieved an open and active communication strategy, which has been proved to be very successful. Upon request of the coordinator and the GB, UI and Airbus accepted to keep in view the global scientific coherence and applicability of the AcF tasks during the project. Finally, to optimise the scientific exchange on specified topics, thematic subgroups meet to overcome scientific and technical difficulties for the benefit of the project.

At the beginning of the project the repartition and the coordination of researches was précised. Then the project was focused on the definition of tasks in terms of selection of fire scenarios, and flammability and burning property of materials. In particular, it has been 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 provision of the identified relevant materials formed a real obstacle for the project and its finance.
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 are finished and results are discussed.

The experimental setups to determine the burning behaviour of composite and cabin materials were 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 are still under evaluation but will be operating soon.
The numerical works, pool fire simulation, fire growth and evacuation modelling has been prepared for the integration of experimental measurements of flammability data and fire behaviour. Simulations have been run and first numerical results are available.

To optimise the acquired information, contacts are periodically made between experimenters and modellers to insert more accurate input data into the software, and to adjust the working parameters for the laboratory scale fire configuration tests from numerical calculations.
Before disseminating AcF findings such as the database on flammability, burning, smoke, toxicity properties of the materials and evacuation modelling the results are always discussed between the partners, particularly with Airbus and EADS.
From the innovation part of the project will be the main focus to give an added value to European aircraft manufacturers, regulators and equipment suppliers.
The results of the project AIRCRAFTFIRE have different expected impacts on fire safety in aeronautics. The impacts follow the work programme performed by the AIRCRAFTFIRE consortium.

AIRCRAFTFIRE will mainly:

- evaluate the new fire threat induced by the massive use of composites in aeronautics;
- provide flammability, toxicity and burning properties of the relevant materials required for modelling;
- evaluate the efficiency of new multi-criteria fire detectors and suppression systems to fight fire and reduce false alarms;
- provide a numerical tool for predicting fire growth and passenger evacuation.

By that the experimental and numerical approach of AIRCRAFTFIRE will provide aircraft designers and manufacturers, and airlines companies, with knowledge and tools to reduce the fire threat to the passenger survivability during in-flight or post-crash fires.

Aircraft manufacturers and material suppliers will get through AIRCRAFTFIRE a holistic view on the fire behaviour and the performance of materials used in the next generation of aircraft. From the simulation results can be seen the where and which material or construction properties have to be improved to better suppress the development of fires and to enhance the possibilities of survival for passengers. The developed simulation tools will be used to improve the training of fire fighters, crew members and pilots. The simulations will help them to enhance the understanding of fire growth and passenger evacuation including human behaviour. The experimental setup and testing procedures will help to consider the relevance of the standard test regulations for the new materials, the composite materials.

Regulators such as FAA and EASA are well aware of the implications the new materials have for the fire safety aboard aircraft. The experimental results of AIRCRAFTFIRE are in difference to the certification standard tests not targeted to proof that materials pass or fail the standard test criteria but to identify physical and chemical properties of materials and to put them in to context with the mechanisms of fire ignition and fire growth. The findings will help in first instance the regulators to improve the pass/fail tests by better reference to the physics behind. The second impact related to regulation is that through better knowledge of material behaviour and fire mechanisms at the hand prediction of material behaviour can be improved and on the other hand cheaper and easier tests methodologies for example with smaller specimen can be used either in preparation to certification tests or even during certification tests.

The results of AIRCRAFTFIRE will help to underline that air transport is one of the safest transport means available also in the public perception and help to bridge the requirements from greening air transport and the requirements of passenger safety.
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Simulation Of Aircraft Evacuation
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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Fire Risks Assessment And Increase Of Passenger Survivability

Acronym: 
AIRCRAFTFIRE

Runtime: 
01.01.2011 to 31.12.2013

Status: 
completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

Please click on an entry to view all contact details.

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE

(France)

Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: Mr. SOULLIE Patrice

Website: http://www.cnrs.fr

Phone: +33-238255200

Contact

AIRBUS OPERATIONS SAS

(France)

Contact person: Mr. PICOT Thierry

Phone: +33-561936172

Contact

CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY

(United Kingdom)

Contact person: Mr. GREENE Richard Graham

Website: http://www.caa.co.uk

Phone: +44-1293573462

Contact

EADS DEUTSCHLAND GMBH

(Germany)

Contact person: Mr. LANG Werner

Website: http://www.eads.net

Phone: +49-8960728653

Contact

FRAUNHOFER-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V

(Germany)

Contact person: Ms. ZEUMANN Andrea

Website: http://www.fraunhofer.de

Phone: +49-8912052723

Contact

HASKOLI ISLANDS

(Iceland)

Contact person: Dr. KRISTJANSDOTTIR Greta Bjork

Website: http://www.hi.is

Phone: +354-5255492

Contact

INSTITUT NATIONAL DES SCIENCES APPLIQUEES DE ROUEN

(France)

Contact person: Dr. COURMONTAGNE Nora

Website: http://www.insa-rouen.fr

Phone: +33-0232956529

Contact

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT DELFT

(Netherlands)

Contact person: Mr. HOEKSTRA Martin

Website: http://www.tudelft.nl

Phone: +31-152785214

Contact

THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

(United Kingdom)

Contact person: Ms. NOBLE Angela

Website: http://www.ed.ac.uk

Phone: +44-131-650-9024

Contact

UNIVERSITY OF GREENWICH

(United Kingdom)

Contact person: Prof. GALEA Edwin

Website: http://www.gre.ac.uk

Phone: +44-2083318730

Contact

UNIVERSITY OF PATRAS

(Greece)

Contact person: Prof. PANIDIS Thrassos

Website: http://www.upatras.gr

Phone: +30-2610997242

Contact

UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER

(United Kingdom)

Contact person: Dr. PATTON Anne-Marie

Website: http://www.ulster.ac.uk

Phone: +44-2870324242

Contact