The effort seeks to ensure higher occupant safety by creating a safety cell around the aircraft cockpit, according to company officials. Flight Design’s new four seat C4 was chosen as the launch testbed.
Germany’s Ministry of Economic Affairs provided funding for the research project that aims at developing a modular cabin safety system for light aircraft. The new system provides a safety cage around the occupants of an aircraft that builds upon several concepts, such as crash absorbing components, a stiff cabin structure with dedicated load paths for the majority of high load cases, advanced seat installation, and restraint systems.
“We consider the occupant protective concept for improved crashworthiness one of the most important features of the C4,” said Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design. “We are pleased our four seat project was selected. Experience and data acquired will be shared with other organizations.”
“To improve general aviation safety, the Safety Box program took a holistic approach to crashworthiness,” added Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny. “An energy absorbing cabin similar to what is done with passenger automobiles and race cars is where we need to be moving. Next we will move toward full scale crash testing.”
Using a C4 airframe, a full scale crash test is scheduled for March with the German university, Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften, Fakultät Fahrzeugtechnik, Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet Fahrzeugsicherheit, led by Professor Harald Bachem, of Wolfsburg, Germany. The university maintains a test site on a former military base where they commonly do full scale impact simulations with automobiles.
The full scale crash test will be done with the C4 load test airframe swung into the ground to simulate a heavy, but survivable impact.
The C4 will be suspended from two mobile cranes with a third one to hold the aircraft into pre-test position. The aircraft will be equipped with four anthropomorphic test dummies, load sensors and will be monitored by numerous high speed cameras.
This test setup is very close to what NASA does in the USA at the NASA Langley facility in Hampton Rhodes, Virginia.