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Volunteers Injured in Airbus Test
[Update] All passengers evacuated in less than 90 seconds
Claire Ulrich (briconcela)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-27 10:15 (KST)   
[Update: March 27, 10:15 a.m. KST]

Airbus's Hamburg office communicates today (March 26) that the evacuation test went well, with all passengers and crew evacuated in 80 seconds (ten seconds below the maximum time of 90 seconds), but that one volunteer had to be taken to hospital with a broken leg. Other testers suffer from minor injuries. In order to replicate an emergency situation, volunteers for this test were evacuated in darkness and the cabins corridors leading to the exit doors were strewn with magazines and blankets, as often happen during long flights. A large proportion of the selected volunteers were over 45 years old. Plastic dolls played the part of babies.

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An Airbus A380 in Korean Air livery
©2006 Airbus

On March 26, 2006, the giant aircraft Airbus A380 is scheduled to undergo a crucial safety-test on its industrial site in Hamburg (Germany). In order to comply with regulations , the manufacturer will stage a real-life emergency evacuation test for several hundred passengers.

The security challenge, with the double-decker aircraft, is the enormous number of passengers and its cabin structure. The emergency exits are located at 5.03 metres (16.5 feet) above ground in the lower cabin deck. The upper deck towers at 7.8 metres (25 feets) above ground. Airbus manufacturer developped custom solutions and super-size inflatable slides for each of the two cabin decks.

Very high standards have been set for this particular test. 873 passengers, the absolute maximum capacity of commercial flights (850 passengers plus cabin crew) must all be evacuated within 90 seconds. To make things even more difficult, and to stage a really tricky emergency, only eight exit-doors (out of the aircraft셲 sixteen), will open.

For this particular test, 873 volunteers have been recruited in Hamburg fitness clubs. They have received no training or informations on their task. They are of all ages and physical condition, to evaluate what could happen with average and obviously stressed passengers, if and when something goes amiss.

For further information
Airbus 380 slides-show (in French)
Video: France2 TV report on evacuation test in Hamburg (streaming video available for one week starting March 23)

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Claire Ulrich

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