Monday, February 11, 2008

TRAVELHYPE: Airbus A380 Evacuation

When they built the A380, also known as the Super Jumbo, Airbus had to prove that it was possible to get everyone off the plane within a reasonable amount of time during an emergency.

I don't know what that standard is specifically, but here's a demonstration of how fast it can be done: 873 passengers evacuated the aircraft in 77 seconds. That's 11.34 people per second - pretty impressive, even considering the number of doors on this double-decker airplane (16).

Notwithstanding the fact that this test was carried out under controlled conditions - meaning that nothing was on fire, nobody was injured, and so on - this stunt earned Airbus some respect, as well as checked one of the metaphorical boxes on the list of items needed for certification.

You'll notice that nobody stops to grab their oh-so-precious carry-on bag. That might not happen in real life! Also, the video is in German, but even if you don't speak the language, the action and directions are pretty clear. The music is great too... it brings to mind a horror movie where some kid has disturbed a nest of fire ants, and they're coming out for the attack.

Here's another interesting test of this airplane: deliberately dragging the tail along the runway before lifting off. This accomplishes two objectives: it determines the lowest speed at which the aircraft will leave the ground, and verifies that the tail anti-strike device is working. This sort of thing, done accidentally, generally won't result in catastrophic damage to the airframe - although it's apparently loud as hell if you're onboard!

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