WP3 - Improved understanding of environmental phenomena for improving the safety of the air transport system

WP Leader: HydrOcean (HO)

Two key factors ensure the safety of the air transport during the impact phase of ditching: smallest possible accelerations and structural integrity. Some ways to reach these criteria are: geometry modifications, structural modifications, systems of energy absorption, optimization of handling and approach conditions. All require advanced knowledge of the hydrodynamic loads and of the influence of the environment and impact conditions on these loads. In the case of ditching, these loads may be strongly coupled to the structural response that adds an extra level of complexity.

WP2 includes the detailed analysis of physical effects during ditching of aircrafts and helicopters for academic conditions (still water and simple kinematics), while WP3 completes WP2 with more realistic conditions:

  • Waves
  • Ground aerodynamics
  • Handling and approach conditions

The first step is the better understanding of the effect of these environmental conditions on accelerations, hydrodynamic loads and structural response during ditching impact and then landing. This will then be exploited for safety improvement in various ways:

  • Flight manuals specify procedures to the pilot in case of ditching, including in waves (see “Seaplane, skiplane and float/ski equipped helicopter, Operations handbook” ref. FAA-H-8083-23 for example). Their aim is to ensure maximum safety during the impact and landing phases. But these recommendations are empirical. The WP3 sensitivity analysis will thus allow to confirm or adjust these existing recommendations for real conditions.
  • Design solutions aiming at reducing accelerations and structural damages will be investigated in WP4 from lessons learnt in WP3.
  • Another purpose of WP3 will be to include the effect of waves on the water ingress in aircrafts during the floatation phase. This will help to make recommendations in terms of geometry and to make a link between the remaining time for safe evacuation and the sea state.

    WP3 is organized around the following three tasks:

    • Task 3.1: Analysis of the effect of waves on ditching and associated safety recommendations
    • Task 3.2: Analysis of the effect of ground aerodynamics on ditching and associated safety recommendations
    • Task 3.3: Analysis of the effect of handling and approach conditions on ditching and associated safety recommendations

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 724139.

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