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The Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities

The Development and Use of Aircraft Evacuation Modelling as a Viable Tool for the Certification and Safety Analysis of Passenger Aircraft

Simon Blake


Evacuation modelling technology offers designers and regulators of aircraft new opportunities to rigorously test designs and theories. However, before evacuation models can be used effectively they need to be understood by the regulatory and aviation industry, validated and developed further. This thesis tackles each of these aspects.

This thesis provides a detailed review of evacuation modelling with special emphasis on aviation evacuation models and the available data upon which models and understanding can be based. Of these the airEXODUS model is selected for this thesis and it is described in detail and critically evaluated. The evaluation revealed three main issues that needed to be addressed in order for aircraft evacuation modelling to advance. These issues relate to, (1) the limited quantity of model verification, (2) the inability of models to represent crew procedures, and (3) the limited behavioural capabilities of these models with regard to simulating real accidents as opposed to certification scenarios.

The fundamental accuracy and predictive capability of airEXODUS is evaluated. This is followed by a comprehensive investigation of cabin crew and passenger behaviour in 90-second certification trials and real emergency evacuations. The conclusions from this investigation serve as the basis for the development of new algorithms to address issues (2) and (3). Behavioural algorithms are developed to simulate cabin crew bypass in conjunction with algorithms for passengers exit choice and methods for simulated passengers to optimise their chosen route to an exit.

Finally, this thesis concludes by demonstrating the value of evacuation modelling in the design of future aircraft, the regulation of current aircraft and in understanding some of the contributing factors involved in past evacuation related disasters.

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