In this paper, the crashworthiness of the aircraft design is analysed. Crashworthiness means the ability of the aircraft to protect the passengers during a crash. In order to study the crashworthiness of the aircraft design without using crash outcomes, the deformation patterns of the aircraft structure can be studied. The acceleration forces on the aircraft during a crash can be simulated by computer. Human body models can predict injury probabilities during a crash of the designed aircraft. Injury criteria are used, which correlate forces with injury risk. Although composite materials weigh less than aluminum and have more corrosion resistance, which will lower maintenance, composite materials also have more failure characteristics in high-energy crashes (Langevin, 2003).
Composite materials are brittle, and lack plasticity following an impact, so that a change in configuration may be needed in an aircraft design to ensure that crashworthiness criteria are met. An important aspect of aircraft impact survivability is the strength of the passenger seats. The response of seat structures to impact loads shows a need for higher static seat strength. There are load-limiting devices that can be implemented so that the loads transmitted to passengers during a crash will be minimized.
The structural assembly can also be modified to decrease transmitted loads. Aircraft subfloor systems can be developed with high-strength materials that hold the passenger seats during impact, and also contain a crushable layer that will absorb energy. The crushable layer is most important in the vertical direction, for improving human tolerance of the impact. This subfloor platform will also distribute loads across the fuselage evenly. Energy absorbing seats are also effective at reducing loads transmitted to passengers.
A comparison of two similar real-life crash events shows that energy absorbing seats and restraint systems can mean the difference between walking away and not surviving (Langevin, 2003).
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