09 agosto 2012

Brace for impact (Pronti per l'impatto)

A modified crash brace position for aircraft passengers Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine, 1998
Brownson P, Wallace WA, Anton DJ.


BACKGROUND. In 1989, a Boeing 737-400 aircraft crashed at Kegworth, near Nottingham, England. The survivors suffered a large number of pelvic and lower limb injuries, and approximately one-third of the passengers died. Subsequent research has suggested that the "brace-for-impact" position that passengers are advised to adopt prior to a crash landing might be modified in order to reduce the incidence of such injuries. The aim of this research was to evaluate biomechanically such a modified crash brace position.

HYPOTHESIS. A modified brace position would help to prevent injuries to some passengers in the event of an impact aircraft accident.

METHODS. Impact testing on forward-facing seats was performed at the Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine, Farnborough, England. Aircraft seats, mounted on a sled, were propelled down a track to impact at -16 Gx. A test dummy was used as the experimental model. Four dummy positions were investigated: a) upper torso braced forward and lower legs inclined slightly rearward of the vertical; b) upper torso braced forward and lower legs inclined forward; c) upper torso upright and lower legs inclined slightly rearward of the vertical; and d) upper torso upright and lower legs inclined forward. The impact pulses used were based on Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. Transducers located in the head, spine, and lower limbs of the dummy recorded the forces to which each body segment was exposed during the impact. These forces were compared for each brace position.

RESULTS. Impact testing revealed that the risk of a head injury as defined by the head injury criterion was greater in the upright position than in the braced forward position. The risk of injury to the lower limbs was dependent in part on the flailing behavior of the limbs. Flailing did not occur when the dummy was placed in a braced, legs-back position.

CONCLUSIONS. A modified brace position would involve passengers sitting with the upper torso inclined forward so that the passenger's head rested against the structure in front, if possible. The legs would be positioned with the feet resting on the floor in a position slightly behind the knee. The position differs from those previously recommended in that the feet are positioned behind the knee. This study suggests that such a position would reduce the potential for head and lower limb injury in some passengers, given that only a single seat type and single size of occupant have been evaluated. Standardization to such a position would improve passenger understanding and compliance. Such a recommendation should not obscure the fact that an occupant seated in a forward-facing aircraft seat, restrained only by a lap belt, is exposed to considerable forces during an impact accident. Such forces are capable of producing injuries in the femur, pelvis, and lumbar spine.

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