Surviving an Aircraft Accident
The aviation industry has been in the limelight regarding the safety of most commercial airlines, with their safety records being questioned. This has been seen after the fateful accident involving a Flydubai commercial aircraft that crashed on landing. As aviation experts continue to piece together information regarding the crash, there are various elements that are known to have caused the crash.
However, in as much as they continue to occur, there are efforts being made to help understand the causes of air crashes, with this resulting to changes on how various systems in aircrafts ought to be designed, as well as incorporating them so as to find a lasting solution to such crashes to increase the survivability rates.
According to industry experts, flying still remains to be the safest mode of transport, probably with the highest rates of survivability which on the other hand greatly depends on certain factors. These factors may be in the design elements of the aircraft, procedures in operations involving aircraft navigation from takeoff to landing, training and regulation, all which are known to be able to sustain aircrafts in the event of a crash. Therefore, to increase the survivability in the event of an air accident, there are various factors in the design that need to be planned to reduce loss of life.
The design element encompasses the various elements related to how the entire body of an aircraft has been constructed. In order to understand the design, the body sections including the fuselage where the cabin and the tank section need to be examined so as to prevent loss of life during an air crash.
In many instances, the structural ability of the cabin mainly due to the materials used in constructing the section play an important role in the survivability of people in the event of a crash. This is because structural aspects of the cabin, including the floor sections play an important role in safeguarding human lives during an air crash, since they have the ability to protect lives against the impact in the event of a crash.
This however all depends on the composite materials making up the aircraft structures with new aircraft designs advocating for lighter composite materials which reduce the survivability of humans in the event of a crash. However, there is need to alternate the design attributes in such a way to incorporate other materials with strong mechanical attributes that can reduce the impact of a crash on human. This is because such strong materials incur less deformation during crash hence would reduce exposure of the accident on passengers.
Apart from the cabin design elements and the integrity of the cabin itself, the design attributes should be able to allow for easy evacuation in case the fuel tank has been interfered with. This is because jet fuel is more combustive and therefore design elements should take into consideration ways of reducing fire outbreak or increasing evacuation speeds.
In this, the construction techniques should allow for a much faster way of extinguishing fire outbreaks from the tank section as it could easily spread towards the cabin. This therefore calls for additional systems such as an onboard water sprinkling system which is able to suppress fire as a result of an explosion on the fuel tank section.
In as much as the design may contribute heavily on the survivability rates during air crash, there is need to perform a comprehensive review on various facets and construction methods of most modern jets. This is because of the pressure to design aircrafts with very light composite materials mainly due to the global pressure for fuel efficiency with many globally and recognized aviation companies resorting for such types of materials in their aircrafts. As composite materials tend to be quite light, the chances of survival diminish which reduces the chances of passengers surviving an air crash.
In other design considerations to enhance air crash survivability, it is becoming an important element that aviation construction companies should consider within their design such as constructing aircrafts with fire survivability features in their design. This is a unique feature that can enhance survivability rates, for instance as seen in the Flydubai recent crash. In most instances, an airline could crash safely but due to the close proximity of the fuel tank and the fuselage, including the position, it therefore becomes difficult for passengers to survive as in most cases the fuselage section is always engulfed by fire.
As fire survivability and evacuation are connected, it is important to ensure that evacuation during a fire outbreak in an airplane is much faster to increase chances of survival among passengers. This can be done by incorporating other design attributes during the construction of aircrafts (“Increasing the Survival Rate in Aircraft Accidents”, 1996). As compared to passenger jets which are mostly fitted with fire extinguishers, the aspect is becoming less beneficial as most fire extinguishers are not very suppressant. Therefore, to incorporate a more suppressive system within an aircrafts body
A water mist system could be fitted in areas such as the cargo compartments where electric shocks could be triggered due to the sensitive nature of some cargo usually carried (Manske, 2002). This is basically a fire protection system mainly used to discharge very fine droplets of water in specialized areas (Jones, 2009). In this case, the design could implement a high-pressure water mist system in the cargo compartment to act as a water suppressant system in the event that fire breaks in the cargo section.
However, in scenarios that fire could also break in the cabin or fuselage section, like the case of the Flydubai instance, it may be important to consider using tiny mist system on the outer body, and floor sections of the aircraft. This would be fixed as the pito tubes, but in this case, would perform the cooling function, where it would spray water over the cabin section in the event that fire engulfs the sections, which would help suppress or cool down fire in the event that an aircraft is engulfed in fire as it lands (“Post Crash Fires”, n.d).
In addition to reducing the effects of fire on passengers, it would be also appropriate to implement design methods that incorporate the use of smoke hoods on all passenger jets. Smoke hoods are basically woven attires that are used to provide passengers with breathable air in the event of fire after an air crash (United States General Accounting Office, 2003). This is because it has been researched that toxic fumes have a great effect in the closed environment such as the cabin. Therefore in the use of smoke hoods, the attire would help filter out the poisonous carbon
monoxide which would sustain passengers in the event that smoke is detected in the cabin environment in the event of an air crash.
In a study conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCAA), it was found that fire related accidents that occur globally emitted dangerous toxic fumes, and that delays in the implementation of smoke hoods resulted to greater number of deaths, while at the same time reduced the evacuation processes in most fire-related air crashes.
This is because, as may be compared to sea moving vessels, life jackets play an important role in safeguarding the lives in cases where a ship is drowning, and therefore, smoke hoods would help air passengers and also facilitate faster evacuation among them in cases where there is smoke by sustaining the breathing system and also giving a clear path.
In terms of cabin design, the present design encourages a slow procedure which can be dangerous during evacuation processes. This is because evacuation personnel’s mostly rely on the standard door way and any part that has been ripped off due to the impact of an accident on the fuselage and cabin sections. Hence, in order to fasten the evacuation procedures, processes and operations, new aircraft construction methods should consider increasing safety exits or emergency door ways that can easily be opened to help evacuation personnel’s at airports and the cabin crew to help evacuate passengers in the event of an air crash. This would especially be advantageous in fire based air crash as multiple doorways or emergency exits would bring in fresh air and at the same time increase the evacuation process.
In as much as the survivability of passengers depends on various factors, there seems to be a number of design issues that can be implemented, mainly in the cabin and fuselage sections. These design elements mainly touch on the structural properties of the materials that are used in constructing these areas.
Most importantly, in considering the design elements, there are factors that need to be considered in order to reduce or protect passengers from the impact that aircrafts have in their lives, given that the largest number of people sit in these sections during flights. Therefore, to increase their chances of surviving an air crash, impact reduction techniques need to be implemented so as to reduce fatalities in the event of an air crash. To review these elements, it would be worthy enough to discuss the restraint systems, cabin furnishings and other general construction techniques, and their influence towards sustaining people’s lives during an air crash.
Restraint systems in aircraft’s.
Restraint systems play important role in flights, with passengers being encouraged to wear safety or seat belts during flights, especially during take-offs or landing. These are basically some form of straps whose function is to control individuals within their space in order to sustain the control of the aircraft (Rainford & Gradwell, 2015).
In considering the design of the restraint systems, there should be a number of enhancements in order to check luggage, and to minimize human movement in the event an air craft loses control. This is to reduce the impact of the air craft structures on humans especially when air turbulence occurs, as this would affect the center of gravity of an aeroplane as a result of a shift in weight.
Thus, in order also to increase survivability in the event that an aircraft crashes, it is important to construct the restraint systems using materials that are able to absorb some amount of crash loads, especially when safety belts have cushion on them.
In the incorporation of such unique designs, it is important to construct immovable seats that cannot slide past the other to prevent any eventuality. Given that well-mounted seats may reduce human-structure impact, it is important to consider restraining seats, and on the other hand having seat plans that increase chances of surviving as compared to the notion where back seats are more preferable to travelers.
Apart from having a comprehensive seat plan, there are seat designs and arrangements which can be put in place to increase survivability. This is because all depends on the impact that the surrounding structures would have on a passenger (Hsiang & Osire, 2007), and hence a thorough review of the seat configurations and placement would greatly increase the survival rates of passengers in case of any eventuality.
In such a case, implementing seat configurations encouraging brace positions would fit well since they would attenuate the biomedical loads hence would reduce negative impact on human body. While seat configurations and positions would play a role in minimizing death, there are suggestions that safety belts should not only restrain passengers at the waist, rather seat designs should allow for a restrain method where part of the chest should also be restrained to prevent passengers from lurching forward in cases of a steep dive. This would help restrain passengers and hence increase comfort in instances such as of turbulence.
Design is an integral part in aircraft construction if the survivability rates are to be increased. Research indicates that although certain improvements such as the use of airbags would greatly impact the safety of passengers during a crash, most airlines have not complied with that basic safety measure (Dillingham & Congress House Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, 2003).
According to stakeholders in the aviation industry, cabin designs and restraint systems should constantly evolve to help airlines to counter accidents so as to increase the survivability rates. There is therefore the need to implement airbags in commercial airlines given the current state of aviation, in comparison to the normal airbag system installed in vehicles and the numerous benefits they have had in safeguarding the lives of drivers.
As airbags would play a role in increasing survivability, there is also the need to design cabins that are much safer, to reduce the notion that back seats are safer for travel. This would impact on survival rates, as the cabin would be able to sustain the passengers in any eventuality. This would however depend on the structural integrity of the materials used in the cabin sections so as to construct stronger aircraft designs.
In most air crashes, the cabin floor and wings play an important role in dictating the survival rates of passengers, hence the structural integrity of these parts are likely to increase survivability of passengers. Therefore, in the construction of aircrafts, the cabin structural integrity should be considered, especially the strength of the floor and the composite materials used for constructing these sections. This is because the cabin floor has the bigger role in
increasing the survivability of passengers during an air crash. This is because research indicates that stronger cabin floors are likely to mitigate and reduce the impact of a crash on people which would make an aircraft much habitable in any situation. Similarly, the restraint systems and the composite materials used in constructing aircrafts also increase the survivability of passengers during crash.
This is because they would help reduce abnormal movements of passengers hence stabilizing an aircraft thereby reducing chances of death as a result of loss in the center of gravity. Additionally, the composite materials also speak volumes regarding what extent in terms of damage an aircraft is likely to undergo in the event of a crash. This is because composite materials that are harder enough tend to incur slight structural damage hence increasing survivability and the rates of protection.
Procedures to survivability rates
Procedures are put in place in almost every sphere of life, with it playing a role in sustaining something that abides by a given rule. In aviation, procedures are critical if survivability is to be attained. It is almost impossible that flights may violate procedures laid out by aviation bodies, professionals and other stakeholders for the safety of passengers. Procedures always affect takeoff, flight navigation and landing, with these if followed may increase the chances of surviving an air crash.
An air crash will most of the time have an impact in the aviation industry, based on the magnitude of the accident. In cases where there are many casualties, the accident tends to have a far-reaching impact than the unknown ones. Given that they continue to occur, procedures can increase or reduce the survivability rates of passengers in the event of a crash.
In the first instance, procedures are deemed to be very important in that there are procedure manuals that guide the flight crew in various situations, hence violating any would result in a dangerous situation. In cases that an air crash has occurred, either on water or on ground, there are procedures to be followed in order to rescue passengers, hence if followed correctly increases the survivability rates of the passengers.
For instance, to increase the survivability of passengers, there are procedures in every situation such as evacuation, where certain methods and rules need to be followed in order to rescue the casualties. On the other hand, evacuation procedures in the event of a crash may also dictate the number of casualties that may survive the crash. In instances where they are followed to the latter, the number of casualties rescued may be more than if evacuation procedures would not have been followed. For instance, if the cabin crew adheres to given laid down procedures in maintaining calmness in the cabin, it is very likely that many would survive given the state of the crew and the entire passengers.
Accidents occur almost every six months. However that does not mean that casualties may not be found. This can only be possible if correct accident reporting techniques and procedures are used to report an accident. This is because this would hasten the response team at the crash site, which would increase the survivability rates. On the other hand, the response times as depicted by the various parties involved in a crash would dictate the number of casualties and deaths after an air crash, hence if procedures in evacuation and accident response including handling of the operations will likely increase the survival rates.
This refers to preparing an individual for a given task by instilling some given knowledge and skills that would benefit an organization (Crutchfield, 2014). This greatly contributes to the survivability of a crash from various dimensions, from the cabin crew, ground personnel’s to the air traffic controllers given they are impacted with some form of training in order to support the entire aviation cycle, from takeoff, landing and the actual navigation of the aircraft. This is because a lag in any of the units may result to an accident hence coordination is paramount if survivability is to be achieved.
Therefore, in matters of survivability, the three would greatly contribute to the survival of passengers during an air crash. This is because proper training would impact skills that would help them to handle confusing situations such as the occurrence of a stall, which is flying close to conditions which dispose an aircraft to a stall (Gratton, 2015). In such a confusing situation, training helps increase the survivability of passengers, especially where their survival depends on how air crew may handle difficult situations as they would occur. This is because training is meant to impact skills and knowledge that an air crew can use to reduce casualties in the event of an air crash. Hence, training increases the survivability rates in the event of an air crash, where other parties such as the airport staff if well trained would help increase the survival rates, especially in the case of the flydubai airline crash.
Regulations are used to control human behavior (Cook & Mosedale, 2007). They are basically given set of rules that govern an area, and if applied enhance the existence of people. Regulations in aviation play a bigger role in maintaining sanity across the skies, as well as preventing accidents which may occur. However, they are also used to increase the survivability rates in the event of an air crash.
Regulations are usually established and implemented by international bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
They establish set rules that govern transportation of people, cargo and search procedures during air crashes. In such instances, where they help set rules and procedures used for searching aircrafts involved in accidents, they increase the survivability rates of passengers as they increase the chances of locating the wreckage at the site. In other instances, these bodies lay down the rules to be used when evacuating passengers involved in accidents, as well as provide sensitive manuals being used to help air crew in dangerous situations such as stall. In other cases, regulations also help lay down rules of operating and handling aircrafts involved in accidents, which help to locate and rescue survivors in such unseen eventualities. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) helps to establish post crash fire regulations which help aviation stakeholder to effectively respond to fire elements (Mouritz & Gibson, 2006).
Thus, an aircraft design, procedures used in the aviation cycle from takeoff, the actual navigation and landing, training of aviation personnel’s and regulations that govern the aviation industry play an important role in increasing survivability in the event of an air crash. It is therefore important to include and practice the elements discussed so as to reduce deaths in the aviation sector, and to make flying more enjoyable and safer than any mode of transportation around the globe.
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