Out. OUT. OUT!
November 11, 2013 9:45 PM   Subscribe

In order to meet US Federal Aviation Administration’s and the European Aviation Safety Agency’s regulations, all aircraft with a seating capacity of 45 or more must demonstrate the ability to empty in under a minute and a half. For the Airbus A380 that meant 853 passengers and 20 crew members abandoning the craft in less time than it takes horses to run the Kentucky derby.
Link features SLYTs to both the Airbus A380 evacuation test and the Boeing 777 evacuation test. Bonus SLYT to evacuation slide deployment tests. posted by Mitheral (48 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Judging from the video, they left behind the children, handicapped, elderly, and even the obese people.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


The grainy black-and-white video made me think it was from Metropolis or maybe even Modern Times.

No mention of passengers and derbies would be complete without revisiting the MJN Passenger Derby from the Gdansk episode of Cabin Pressure.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:29 PM on November 11, 2013


This is the video they should show before takeoff. Seriously.
posted by mazola at 10:33 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Judging from the video, they left behind the children, handicapped, elderly, and even the obese people.

The 777 evacuation video clearly had a few white-haired women. Anyway, it appears after a quick scan that the FAA regulations specify the age/gender distribution1 and forbid the participation of people with health problems2.

1. page 11 paragraph g
2. page 11 paragraph f

posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:45 PM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


10 Fastest Aircraft Evacuation Slides

Man, there's a YouTube video for everything!

Also, I'm surprised this point was not made anywhere, but those evacuations are done in darkness. That's one reason why it looks like surveillance camera footage. I can't imagine being that "flight attendant" opening the door 25 feet off the ground and having a stampede of people charging me in the dark.
posted by crapmatic at 10:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, according to cosmic.osmo's link, the "passengers" used for testing are other flight attendants. I'd assume they're more inclined to be cooperative and organized than the average passenger.
posted by teraflop at 10:54 PM on November 11, 2013


... must demonstrate the ability to empty in under a minute and a half.

Notice they say "ability", not "likelihood", or "average performance". When you make billions of dollars depend on a specification, that specification is going to be read very closely, and conformed to as tightly as possible.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:05 PM on November 11, 2013


So, 90 seconds to evacuate the aircraft ... how long is it required to remain afloat if it lands on water with gear down? The difference between those two numbers is sort of the safety margin.

Granted that water landings don't happen that often but "amount of time before aircraft catches on fire and blows up after making a really hard landing" is sort of a tough metric to work from.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:21 PM on November 11, 2013


Every airplane you’ve ever been in can be evacuated in less than 90 seconds.

...by trained athletes.
posted by sour cream at 11:23 PM on November 11, 2013


They're testing the plane, not the people. It would be kind of stupid to fail the test because three of the mock passengers couldn't walk and another blocked an isle trying to get something "important" out of the overhead bin. Even in their close-to-ideal scenarios, they each only passed with only a handful of seconds to spare.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:26 PM on November 11, 2013


Also, what's with this weird comparison to the Kentucky Derby? For all I know, it could take a horse half an hour to run the Kentucky Derby...
posted by sour cream at 11:26 PM on November 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


having a stampede of people charging me in the dark

...wielding their hand luggage.
posted by hat_eater at 11:27 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


...by trained athletes.

Not exactly. Boeing just uses ordinary volunteers from company employees. They are told to wear tennis shoes and long sleeve shirts/pants to avoid slide abrasions. They are given some short instructions on how to follow the floor emergency lights in the dark and to patiently avoid shoving which jams the exits. They are told how to leap out onto the slide in a sitting position and to run from the slide at the bottom to avoid pileups. The first ones out stay at the bottom of the slide to pull others quickly to their feet. Even so, there are often some sprained ankles and shoulders from pileups. They typically don't do any practice runs.

It isn't a panic situation and nobody is carrying luggage, but it isn't totally fake. It is just a minimum design spec used as a baseline. If you recall the crash at SFO last summer, even in a real situation everyone was out of the plane, some with their luggage, even before the firetrucks arrived.
posted by JackFlash at 11:42 PM on November 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure if that reminded me most of boot camp (yelling!) or the video game Lemmings...
posted by Harald74 at 11:47 PM on November 11, 2013


I'm pretty sure I could hear "schnell schnell schnell!" in the video. You have to love German efficiency.

I'd love to see a video of Americans attempting the same exit.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:03 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Granted that water landings don't happen that often

Survivable water landings among large commercial passenger jets currently stand at, I believe, One.

(OK, there are a few more )
posted by ShutterBun at 1:15 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


how long is it required to remain afloat if it lands on water with gear down?

This particular plane has a "dtich" button that automatically closes all down-facing openings and seals it up pretty well.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:16 AM on November 12, 2013


The crowd noise at the end of the A380 video is impressive. I had tentatively assumed that, due to the voiceOver being French, that the trial was done in Toulouse. It is an interesting test since it is probably rather hard to account for at the design stage. There is software out there that allows exit design effectiveness to be simulated using dynamically moving crowds of human models.
posted by rongorongo at 1:17 AM on November 12, 2013


rongorongo: "I had tentatively assumed that, due to the voiceOver being French, that the trial was done in Toulouse."
Given that all the people you hear speaking on the plane are German, I'd say Hamburg.
posted by brokkr at 2:06 AM on November 12, 2013


Wow. And now you can see why flight attendants are "there to save you, not to serve you."
posted by three blind mice at 3:17 AM on November 12, 2013


From Air & Space magazine, How Things Work: Evacuation Slides.
Designing evacuation slides has grown more complex as the FAA has tightened performance standards. In the early 1960s, slides had to deploy in 25 seconds in non-extreme weather: no wind and medium-range temperatures. Today’s slides must deploy in six seconds in temperatures ranging from –65 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and unfurl in winds up to 25 knots (28.7 mph). Airlines impose further challenges: Slides must be light and compact enough to fit inside an aircraft door or below the door sill or emergency exit window. So each slide is uniquely developed for its location on an aircraft model.
More evacuation slide tests here.
posted by cenoxo at 4:04 AM on November 12, 2013


What a strange and neat requirement.

The world just keeps on amazing me.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:35 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What? No ejection seats?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:12 AM on November 12, 2013


how long is it required to remain afloat if it lands on water with gear down?

You don't ditch with the gear down, it'll just rip them off and then the plane can flip if you land asymmetrically. If you recall the Hudson crash, the plane stayed afloat for quite a long time - people were hanging out on the wings waiting for rescue boats.

Funny story I heard while working at the airport in South Jersey - Atlantic City used to have two airports, AC International and Bader Field. Bader's runways were less than 3,000 feet, so the only traffic in and out were usually just small general aviation craft. Anyway, one day this guy flying a Hawker or something mistakes Bader for ACY and ends up in the water at the end of the runway. After he let the passengers out into a rescue boat he buttoned up the plane again and sat in it so that it wouldn't sink. oh hey it's on youtube

What? No ejection seats?

I realize this is a joke, but people ask me about this a lot (and get really panicky when I mention there aren't parachutes on the plane). It's far safer to stay inside the plane and ride it down than it is to try to bail out early. There are lots of things on the outside of the plane that will hurt or maim you if and when you crash in to them as your body is carried along the slipstream.

It's really difficult to see (I think they've been painting over them actually) but take a look at this image - you see that black spot under the NATO insignia? Right about there is a bailout chute. Those planes have a hatch that will blow out from the plane so the crew can jump out and parachute away to safety. It's never been used to my knowledge - they did some human analogue tests when it was installed and discovered that the dummies had a nasty habit of hitting the wings and snapping in half.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:42 AM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have seen one proposal for aircraft design, where the entire seating is basically a pallet that slides into the airframe once everyone is seated. The idea is you 'board' in the departure lounge, where the aircraft seating is, and once everyone's milled around, sat themelves down and generally got themselves ready, the complete meat-puppet+seating-caboodle is simply extracted from the gate and slotted into the bit with the wings and the engines.

It was further pointed out that in event of something terrible, the entire lot could be ejected in one sea-cucumber-self-eviscerating type move, to float gently down to ground on some huge parachute.

This was only semi-seriously suggested, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But it's still an entertaining idea that, were we still in the 1930s, would doubtless had led to some spiffing film clips.
posted by Devonian at 5:42 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The idea is you 'board' in the departure lounge, where the aircraft seating is, and once everyone's milled around, sat themelves down and generally got themselves ready, the complete meat-puppet+seating-caboodle is simply extracted from the gate and slotted into the bit with the wings and the engines.

I'm curious what the "obvious reasons" are, because this sounds brilliant to me.
posted by ook at 5:55 AM on November 12, 2013


Devonian, your aircraft design description reminded me of the 1964 Worlds Fair IBM Pavilion (skip to 3:12 to see what I mean). I was just a kid when I saw this but it made a huge impression.

I was on a plane that lost an engine en route from NY to Puerto Rico and had to make an emergency return to New York. It was flying okay on the remaining engines but the sight of the emergency vehicles lining the runway on our landing was shocking. This was not a large plane and there were no slides, but we were definitely chased out in a hurry by the flight attendants. Watching this video really brought back the adrenaline surge and surreal sense of intensity.

Inside the terminal everyone headed straight for the rest rooms... I remember being in line while several fellow passengers threw up in the sinks. I understand that not all were willing to get on the plane that replaced our flight.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:57 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, there's a YouTube video for everything!

Rule 34 of the Internet says there's porn for everything. I look forward to seeing grainy black and white footage of couples and other combinations of naked, rutting people being tossed out of an airplane onto an inflatable slide by uniformed, German-shouting dominatrices.
posted by Naberius at 6:35 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, 90 seconds to evacuate the aircraft ... how long is it required to remain afloat if it lands on water with gear down?

A long time. See Cap'n Sullenburger and the Hudson Raid.

The reason for 90 seconds has nothing to do with a water landing. Airliners are very light tubes filled with air and fuel and a few incidental bits, some of them self loading.

The reason for 90 seconds is fire, since airliners are filled with air and fuel and an few incidental bits, some of which are self unloading.

What? No ejection seats?

1) Too heavy, which means you've increased flying safety by pricing everyone out of it.

2) Too many lawsuits from injured backs. Ejection seats *hurt*

3) You have to have oxygen tanks at every seat -- punch out at FL340 without one, and you'll be dead when you land. That makes them even heavier, and you've made thing even more pricey/safe.

4) Why? Safest way to travel any real distance is flying.

Remember: you can do something vastly more dangerous than flying today. Get in a car and drive. Hell, walk a few miles. Airliners are incredibly safe and have been getting safer every year -- and things like this, where there has to be enough exits to get everyone out in 3-4 minutes if there's a fire, is one reason why. Witness the A340 crash at Toronto in 2005, where the plane burned to the ground, and everybody lived.
posted by eriko at 6:37 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Granted that water landings don't happen that often

Stuff like this is part of what I love about commercial aviation, though -- it's just so completely risk-averse and boringly, deadly serious about everything.

I mean, there's the old saw that air travel is the safest way to go a long distance, and it's not crazy -- since the 2001 hijackings, there have been only five airliner crashes involving fatalities (and only four involving fatalities on the aircraft) in the US, for a total of 124 people killed. While since 2001, the US has lost somewhere north of 385,000 people in motor vehicle crashes.

And it's not because air travel is intrinsically safe -- pumping you full of mach 0.8 worth of kinetic energy in a vehicle that, for real honest-to-god technical reasons and not just economic ones*, can't be any stronger or tougher than it has to be, isn't a safe thing to do. But the focus on safety and perfection, and the regulatory requirements that undergird it, is just so strong that an intrinsically dangerous way to travel becomes that safe.

*As opposed to, say, cruise ships, where's there's no intrinsic physical reason you couldn't build all of them as tough as Iowa-class battleships. They'd would just be more expensive to build and more expensive to run.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:40 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This video is one the strongest arguments for (the recently revoked rule of) not allowing people to use electronic devices during take-off and landing. 90 seconds means the flight attendants had better have your immediate, undivided attention and you should have your hands free.

That selfish idiot who can't put down her Kindle or iPad for a few moments is probably gonna get some people killed.
posted by three blind mice at 6:49 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm curious what the "obvious reasons" are, because this sounds brilliant to me.

Probably has a lot to do with the nature of pressurized aircraft cabins and the weaknesses introduced when you start cutting more than a few large holes in the fuselage. Making the entire top of the fuselage pop off would be an insanely complex engineering project and probably really hard to keep intact during flight. The 1930s-wacky-engineering types didn't envision flight at 38,000 feet up.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:00 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like you can actually sign up to try something similar yourself: British Airways has a Flight Safety Awareness course that features the following (among other things):

-- tea and coffee on arrival
-- simulated flight on a full motion Boeing 737 cabin simulator, leading to an emergency landing and full aircraft evacuation from a smoke-filled environment
(...)
-- break for tea, coffee, and biscuits
-- emergency evacuation slide descents from an Airbus A320

I am guessing I didn't have to tell you this was on British Airways.

anyway, it costs £162 incl VAT per person for individuals, or £135 per person for corporate groups.
posted by chalkbored at 7:00 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


No pushing, shoving, going the wrong way, people on the phone, people texting, people getting into fights? This thing is rigged.
posted by stormpooper at 7:08 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's really quite impressive. And, yeah, they should show that as part of the safety briefing. Or maybe in the gate area while people are waiting to board.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:15 AM on November 12, 2013


That selfish idiot who can't put down her Kindle or iPad for a few moments is probably gonna get some people killed.

I'm pretty sure the 90 seconds of leaving the plane is generally preceded by at least 60 seconds of something being very seriously wrong. While I understand that level 95 of Candy Crush is a doozie, I'll bet the smoke/shaking/getting in the crash position is infinitely more interesting in the moment.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:27 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


That selfish idiot who can't put down her Kindle or iPad for a few moments is probably gonna get some people killed.

For very, very, very tiny values of "probably."
posted by straight at 7:43 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kids are out there texting and driving, and you're complaining that I'm sitting quietly, reading my Kindle, in my boringly safe airline seat?
posted by straight at 7:45 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stuff like this is part of what I love about commercial aviation, though -- it's just so completely risk-averse and boringly, deadly serious about everything.

I mean, there's the old saw that air travel is the safest way to go a long distance, and it's not crazy -- since the 2001 hijackings, there have been only five airliner crashes involving fatalities (and only four involving fatalities on the aircraft) in the US, for a total of 124 people killed. While since 2001, the US has lost somewhere north of 385,000 people in motor vehicle crashes.


In that vein, here's Capt. Sullenberger giving a keynote speech comparing the practice of medicine to the practice of aviation, noting that in terms of errors and hospital-acquired conditions medicine as a field is crashing twenty fully-loaded 747s every week without survivors, but it never seems to be a big deal because it happens one person at a time.
posted by mhoye at 7:51 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


-- break for tea, coffee, and biscuits
Sadly, for British passengers, there may not always be time for tea and biscuits during actual evacuations.
posted by rongorongo at 8:37 AM on November 12, 2013


@sour cream -- It took me the energy of six tablespoons of ethanol to stop laughing at your comment.
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:04 AM on November 12, 2013


This was only semi-seriously suggested, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Well, we kind of do this already with freight - Unit Load Devices and 463L pallets plus dozens of roller bearings on the floor of the aircraft allow cargo to be loaded and unloaded very quickly.

And a quick search of the interwebs reveals that such a thing exists for seating! Although I'm fairly certain you don't load humans on it before shoving it in the plane. Probably a bit uncomfortable to be jostled around by the cargo loader.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:31 AM on November 12, 2013


(The next step, of course, is to attach an air-drop parachute to the seat pallet for a hasty exit out the rear door door.)
posted by backseatpilot at 9:32 AM on November 12, 2013


Kids are out there texting and driving, and you're complaining that I'm sitting quietly, reading my Kindle, in my boringly safe airline seat?

Serial killers are out there torturing people to death, and you're complaining about kids texting and driving?

War criminals are out there having directly or indirectly murdered hundreds of thousands to millions of people, and you're complaining about retail-level serial killers?

The sun is going to expand into a red giant and exterminate every living thing on Earth before destroying it entirely, and you're complaining about war criminals?

The entire universe is going to degenerate into an empty void scattered with cold, still dust and the frozen burned-out husks of stars, and you're complaining about the destruction of Earth?

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:07 AM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you look at the bottom on the inside of the door on most planes you will see a rectangular bulge. The slide is stored in the door itself. Normally when you open and close the door nothing happens. But when the door is armed, a girt bar attaches the slide to the floor of the plane. When the door swings open, the fixed girt bar pulls the slide out of its container in the in the door and automatically starts inflation. It is the movement of the door that pulls out the slide.

The doors must be armed before before pushing away from the gate and disarmed before opening the door to allow passengers to normally exit. This means attaching or detaching the girt bar that connects the slide to the floor. The pilot will make an announcement to the flight crew before departure saying something like "latch girt bars", "prepare doors for departure" or "cross check." Cross check means that the crew double check each other so that the slides are properly armed or disarmed as needed. The slides won't deploy if not armed. And if someone forgets to disarm before opening the door, the slide deploys unexpectedly and it costs thousands of dollars to replace the slide. It happens.

If you watch, you can see the flight crew move a lever to arm or disarm the door slides, on order from the pilot. This arming lever is separate from the actual door latch. The emergency exits over the wings are always armed.
posted by JackFlash at 10:26 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


For all the people being trendily cynical about how unrealistic it is and whining about ipads, etc -- as the article points out, the Hudson flight indeed evacuated in around 90 seconds. With a infant in arms, a person in a wheelchair, several seriously injured people, and with the back exits blocked by water. And it was because of this kind of requirement and test that they were able to.
posted by tavella at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kids are out there texting and driving, and you're complaining that I'm sitting quietly, reading my Kindle, in my boringly safe airline seat?

Serial killers are out there torturing people to death, and you're complaining about kids texting and driving?


The point is that there are selfishly dangerous things you can do with technology, but reading a Kindle on a plane is not one of them. It's not a difference in degree, it's a difference in kind.
posted by straight at 5:55 PM on November 12, 2013


rongorongo: "-- break for tea, coffee, and biscuits
Sadly, for British passengers, there may not always be time for tea and biscuits during actual evacuations.
"

"Transtellar Cruise Lines would like to apologize to passengers for the continuing delay to this flight. We are currently awaiting the loading of our complement of small lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment and hygiene during the journey. Meanwhile we thank you for your patience. The cabin crew will shortly be serving coffee and biscuits again."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:40 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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