Civil Aircraft Side-Facing Seat Research Summary
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Civil Aircraft Side-Facing Seat Research Summary

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    Final report.
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  • Abstract:
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has standards and regulations that are intended to protect aircraft

    occupants in the event of a crash. However, side-facing seats were not specifically addressed when aircraft seat

    dynamic test standards were developed in the late 1980s. Since then, considerable research has been conducted to

    increase knowledge about injury risks and mitigation technologies for automotive and aviation applications. Some

    injury risks such as those to the head, chest, and pelvis are common to both automotive and aviation side-impact

    scenarios. FAA research has determined that typical side-facing seat configurations could pose additional neck and

    flailing injury risks. To address these identified risks, the FAA sponsored research to develop neck injury criteria

    applicable during lateral impacts. This research also evaluated the overall injury risks of the seat configurations

    identified as having the greatest injury potential. The research included impact tests using postmortem human

    subjects and the ES-2 test dummy.

    In this report, the latest advancements in side-facing seat impact testing technology and biomechanical knowledge

    are used to identify new testing and injury assessment methods intended to ensure fully side-facing aircraft seat

    designs provide the same level of safety afforded occupants of forward- and aft-facing seats. The methods

    identified include: use of the ES-2re test dummy and the injury criteria cited in the automotive safety standards to

    assess injury, adapting test procedures related to test dummy seating, clothing and instrumentation, applying

    injury criteria originally applicable to forward-facing seats, reducing flailing injuries by limiting occupant

    excursion and contact, and applying the new neck injury criteria developed by the FAA-sponsored research.

    To determine the effect that implementation of the new criteria could have on approval of typical side-facing

    seats, the results of research tests with those seat configurations were evaluated using the pass/fail criteria outlined

    in this report. This evaluation showed that configurations permitting excessive lateral flailing do not pass, and

    those that limit it by combining effective restraint system geometry with a barrier or inflatable restraint, pass

    readily. This result indicates that the criteria described in this report can be met by applying current technology.

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