Monday, April 30, 2007

One of Aviation's
“Urban Myths” Proven?


For a while now, there have been stories circulating on the Internets about an evacuation test that Airbus ran on their A380 which “proved” that over eight hundred souls could evacuate their behemoth airliner in under the FAA-mandated time limit of 90 seconds. To receive the certification, the evac had to take place in total darkness.

The story goes that on March, 2006, the test was completed when 873 "passengers" and 20 crew performed the task in 77 seconds. Many have always been suspicious of this tale, but now a video of the demonstration has surfaced on youtube. The video plays in black and white because it was shot with infrared cameras inside the total darkness of the hangar.

Critics who have seen the video found here are already throwing up major red flags. From the footage shown, I have to say I mostly agree with their logic:
Via ANN, one critic posting online said “(The evacuation video is) totally unrealistic. Where were the children, the old, crippled, or the dumb? These people were all in shape." Another posted as saying "Of course you notice every passenger is fit (not overweight), emotionally composed, reacts to instructions, waits their turn, and is not afraid of the slide. I think real-life might be a bit different."
When you view this video, these two posters have valid points. Where are the drunk, freaked-out nutjobs? Where are the fat slobs who refuse to part with their laptop bags? How about the barely mobile elderly, or the scared, crying children? This test – as shown in the video – does not show reality as I know it.

I dare Airbus to go to O'Hare and pick the first 873 pax that walks past any spot in the airport, load them into a full-motion simulator of the entire A380, and simulate the frightening experience of the plane suffering fatal mechanical problems (like maybe a engine on fire?) followed by a crash landing that slams that airliner into total darkness. THEN start the stopwatch and ask those same humans to evacuate in under ninety seconds.

It'll never happen.