Test & Measurement
NASA Drops Jet Fuselage (Filled with Crash Test Dummy Passengers)
NASA is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to figure out how new airframe concepts should be tested in the future. The agency is looking at methods of reliably testing everything from conventional metal airframes to exotic composites. A recent June test was the second drop test conducted this year; the first test occurred in March. Both tests occurred at Langley's Landing and Impact Research Facility. The second test used a different section of the plane, the wing box, which is much stiffer than the rest of the fuselage. In this test, a 5,180-pound fuselage cross-section taken from above the wing of a 68-passenger regional jet aircraft was suspended by cables at a five-degree angle and dropped from 14.5 feet. It hit a dirt surface angled at 10 degrees, traveling about 30 feet per second. The ten crash test dummies on board were fitted with transducers that allowed engineers to measure the loads and strains on them from the force of the drop. The fuselage was also equipped with data-collection instruments to measure how the structure withstood the impact.