The National Academies

ACRP 11-02/Task 03 [Completed]

Improving Stabilization and Use of Aircraft Evacuation Slides at Airports
[ ACRP 11-02 (Quick Response for Special Needs) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $99,784
Research Agency: George Washington University
Principal Investigator: Vahid Motevalli
Effective Date: 1/1/2007
Completion Date: 1/1/2008

Current technology aircraft evacuation slides do not adequately protect passengers from injury during evacuations. Airport fire and rescue personnel estimate that approximately 10% of evacuees require medical attention for sprains, skin burns, broken bones or other injuries resulting from the evacuation. Evacuation slides are susceptible to problems in deployment during different situations such as high wind conditions, often resulting in the slides becoming rendered useless when folded against the aircraft fuselage and when aircraft are not fully upright when slides are deployed, creating varying slope angles of the slides. Aircraft in operation today are also of varying ages and aircraft certified over 15 years ago have slide and evacuation rate standards that are very different than newer aircraft, which can affect injury rates. Other factors that can contribute to injuries include whether the aircraft is on or off pavement, the type of clothing worn by passengers, and the differences between single vs. dual aisle and single level vs. double level aircraft. For larger aircraft, there can be a discrepancy between the evacuation performance of certification volunteers, who are trained in the procedure, and actual evacuees, who often hesitate at the head of the slide, pausing to sit on the door sill before entering the slide. This latter phenomenon results in slower evacuations than is demonstrated in certification.

This research identified challenges associated with the use of slides at airports, focusing on causes of injury rates and ways to reduce those rates. A comprehensive report was prepared that includes: (1) literature review of known incidents where aircraft evacuations via the slides occurred and identified causes of known injuries One study to include in this review is the NTSB Safety Study 001 published in 2000., (2) survey/interview of airport operators and emergency responders involved in those incidents, slide manufacturers and aircraft manufacturers, as appropriate, (3) review of tools relative to aircraft slide evacuations available to first responders, specifically those tools available through the FAA Technical Center (4) ecommended guidance for airport operators & emergency personnel on preparing for aircraft slide evacuations that will include best practices for minimizing injury rates.

Status:  Completed.  This task was published as ACRP Report 2 and can be found at this URL  http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=9046.

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