Aircraft Evacuations through Type-III Exits II: Effects of Individual Subject Differences
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Aircraft Evacuations through Type-III Exits II: Effects of Individual Subject Differences

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      Simulated emergency egress from Type III over-wing exits was studied to support regulatory action by the FAA. Passageway width from the aircraft center aisle to the Type-III exit was the major variable of interest; effects of individual subject attributes on egress were analyzed to determine whether such variables should be better controlled in future research. Effects of subject evacuation experience were also analyzed to account for unexpected anomalies found for age-group egress performance.

      Methods. Two subject groups of differing mean ages were employed in a repeated-measures evaluation of different passageway widths leading to the exit in the CAMI aircraft cabin evacuation facility. Main effects of passageway width on egress rates were determined using analysis of variance; individual subject age, weight, height, gender and waist-size were then subjected to multivariate analysis of variance and stepwise regression analysis to assess the effects of these within-subjects factors. Repeated measures analyses of evacuations at individual passageway widths also provided information about effects of evacuation experience for individual subjects.

      Results. Main effects were found for passageway width (p <.01) and subject age (p<.00001), weight (p<.0004), waist size (p<.0015) and gender (p<.001). The stepwise regression analysis showed that individual subject age accounted for the largest amount of experimental variance (43%), followed next by weight, waistline size (which correlated .89 with weight), and gender. Evacuation experience was found to enhance evacuations by allowing older subjects to develop better egress strategies and correct inefficient egress techniques.

      Conclusion. Studies of emergency aircraft evacuations should account for the personal characteristics of the individuals employed in the research, as physical attributes such as age, weight, and gender may significantly affect the results, and can be varied systematically to address certain research questions more appropriately. Similarly, research studies employing repeated measures designs can be affected by the evacuation experience subjects acquire; such studies should control for these effects to prevent the possibility of confounded results.

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