Monday, March 27, 2006

A380 evacuation test a success?

Airbus are claiming success after yesterday's A380 evacuation test, the results of which are yet to be verified by the authorities (but the signs suggest that this is just a formality). Airbus think they managed to evacuate 873 "passengers" (half of whom were Airbus employees, with the other half being recruited from local gyms...) in 80 seconds.

The test didn't run quite as smoothly as Airbus might have hoped, though, with one participant breaking his leg, and 32 others suffering minor injuries (many sustaining friction burns on the slides).

Thos familiar with our recent work on A380 evacuation modelling will know that one of the main variables of interest was delay caused by passengers pausing at the upper exits (which are 8m off the ground). The editor of Flight International, Mark Daly, was one of the participants in the test: "One of the big concerns was whether anybody would hesitate at the top of the slides," said Mr Daly. "The finding was that nobody does - in a panic situation, your universe contracts and you're only really conscious of the few feet around you."

Hopefully Airbus will release enough data to allow us to test the validity of our existing model, but there's no requirement for them to disclose anything other than the bare details of the test.
We'll wait and see.

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