Hard Knocks: Insights in Cabin Safety

Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) at IGB has proven itself as a practical way to reveal unpredicted product failures which could affect aircraft cabin safety.

The guiding principles of FAA/EASA aircraft regulations are (passenger) safety and a safe means of egress in the case of an emergency.

Aircraft interior components that are fully compliant with the safety requirements may, through years of wear-and-tear, stop working optimally, thereby becoming a possible on-board safety hazard.

Bearing this in mind, IGB’s ALT program has generated valuable insights into product failures and the effect these may have on safety years into their operational life.

The testing itself simulates product life usage in a condensed period, thereby revealing eventual design weaknesses, performance inhibitors or even downright dangerous occurrences.

IGB’s extensive ALT tests uncovered various unforeseen scenarios where product failures could have jeopardized cabin safety during its service lifetime.

Some examples include:

  • A retaining device failing and thereby :
    • being unable to restrain an item (e.g., a trolley) in the cabin/galley area
    • preventing the cabin crew from accessing emergency equipment due to, for example, an inoperable door latch.
  • Passenger service equipment (a folding table) seizing which then will prevent it from being secured in its stowed position and thereby blocking escape routes and doorways.
  • A spring on a lavatory waste bin flap failing which will compromise the air seal and in turn compromise the fire extinguishing properties of the receptacle.

IGB reported these points and recommendations for an improved design to the engineering departments. The result: appropriate product modifications were made to ensure longer service life.

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