UK Nonlinear News, October 1996
International Ecotechnology Research Centre, Cranfield

A Computer Based Simulation and Risk Assessment Model for Investigation of Airliner Fire Safety

Dr. P.Macey and Professor Martyn Cordey-Hayes

A computer simulation model has been developed to investigate fire safety issues in commercial passenger aircraft operations. The aim of the work has been to create a computer based analysis tool that generates representative aircraft accident scenarios and then simulates their outcome in terms of passenger injuries and fatalities. The details of the accident scenarios are formulated to closely match the type of events that are known to have occurred in aircraft accidents over the last 40 years. This information has been obtained by compiling a database and undertaking detailed analysis of approximately 200 airliner fire accidents. In addition to utilising historical data, the modelling work has incorporated many of the key findings obtained from experimental research undertaken by the world's air safety community.

The unique feature of the simulation process is that all critical aspects of the accident scenario have been analysed and catered for in the formative stages of the program development. This has enabled complex effects, such as cabin crash disruption, impact trauma injuries, fire spread, smoke incapacitation and passenger evacuation to be simulated in a balanced and integrated manner. This naturally includes the effects of some very non-linear processes involved in fire spread, and also in passenger interactions. The work is intended to further the general appreciation and understanding of the complex events that lead to fatalities in aircraft fire accidents. This is achieved by analysing all contributory factors that are likely to arise in real fire accident scenarios and undertaking quantitative risk assessment through the use of novel simulation methods. Future developments will enable the undertaking of a systematic exploration and appraisal of the effectiveness of both current and future aircraft fire safety policies.

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Last Updated: 7th October 1996.