The AASK Database project undertaken by the Fire Safety Engineering Group of the University of Greenwich funded by the UK CAA (CAA project 277/SRG/R&AD) concerned with the development of the Aircraft Accident Statistics and Knowledge (AASK) database. It is a repository of survivor accounts from aviation accidents. Its main purpose is to store observational and anecdotal data from the actual interviews of the occupants involved in aircraft accidents. It was initially envisaged as an aid to the development of aircraft evacuation models - such as airEXODUS - where insight was required into how people actually behaved during evacuation from survivable aircraft crashes. In addition, the database has wider application to other areas of aviation safety.
AASK V3.0 consists of five main components the,
(a) User Interface,
(b) Data Entry interface,
(c) Data Viewer,
(d) Data Query interface, and
(e) Seat Plan Viewer.
Data contained within AASK V3.0 consists of information derived from both passenger and cabin crew interviews, information concerning fatalities and basic accident details. The cabin crew component has become a significant aspect of the database providing insight into cabin conditions and passenger behaviour as seen from professionally trained cabin specialists. The fatalities component holds data for all fatalities documented in the accident reports while the Seat Plan Viewer graphically displays the starting locations of all the passengers - both survivors and fatalities - as well as the exits used by the survivors.
Data entered into the AASK database was extracted from the transcripts supplied by the Air Accident Investigation Branch in the UK and the National Transportation Safety Board in the US. The quality and quantity of the data was very variable ranging from short summary reports of the accidents to boxes of individual accounts from passengers, crew and investigators. Data imported into AASK V3.0 comprises information from:
Using the AASK Database
AASK V3.0 can be accessed over the internet. The query builder developed for AASK has been designed so that users without a detailed understanding of the ACCESS database - on which AASK is based - can easily make use of the data. It should be stressed however that to run meaningful queries the user must understand the nature of the data held in the database. The AASK database can also be queried directly using ACCESS however, this can only be done locally.
Figure 1: The five main components of the AASK V3.0 database.
The AASK database provides a versatile aid in the analysis of human
experience in aircraft evacuations. While much data exists for input to the
database, the data is limited in scope in that the qualitative aspects of the data far
outweigh the quantitative. As such, conclusions drawn from the database must be
treated with caution and with full knowledge of the implications of the questions posed
and the nature of the data used to provide the responses.
Quite apart from its use as a development tool for evacuation
models such as airEXODUS, AASK is shedding light on what really happens during aircraft
emergency evacuations and as such is helping to dispel some of the myths that pervade
aviation safety. To this end some initial analysis of the data provided in AASK V3.0
was undertaken, this concentrated on seven main areas:
1 Survival and reply rates,
2 Age distribution,
3 Seatbelt difficulty,
4 Seat Climbing reasons,
5 Direction and distance travelled,
6 Exit usage, and
7 Exit availability.
In addition to these applications, the AASK system could also be used as an aid to accident investigators during the survivor interview process. The difficulties associated with the collection of data from survivors of aircraft accidents are not easily resolved. However, once survivors have been identified and have agreed to share their experiences, a more thorough and standardised approach could be adopted when eliciting and recording their testimonies. The AASK database provides a possible basis for forming such an approach, and as such, also provides a useful framework for the purposes of cross-accident analysis. This type of analysis is vital if trends in passenger behaviour are to be understood and ultimately used to improve passenger safety.
Access to AASK is provided free of charge to bona fide researchers who
register for access. A condition of this access is that should a publication or
report be produced that makes use in-part or in-full of AASK data or analysis
based on AASK data, you are required to forward a copy of the report/publication
to Prof Ed Galea. In addition,
you are required to cite the following reference to AASK in your
"An Analysis of human behaviour during aircraft evacuation situations using the AASK V3.0 database.". Galea E.R., Finney, K.M., Dixon, A.J.P., Siddiqui A., and Cooney D.P. The Aeronautical Journal, Vol 107, Number 1070, pp 219-231, 2003.
The online access to AASK database is no longer available.