In October Dr Andy Hallett, our Senior Research & Development Scientist, attended the tenth triennial International Fire and Cabin Safety Research Conference in New Jersey. A three-day event hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to showcase recent and upcoming developments in the world of cabin safety.
Amongst the jam-packed three-day schedule there were talks on crash dynamics, cleaning and hygiene, cabin and flight deck fire mitigation and so much more, as well as the opportunity to network and meet with some of the biggest names in aerospace.
Andy returned to Cwmbran with a pad full of notes and a mind full of ideas. It was the first time we had attended an FAA Fire & Cabin Safety event, so Andy sat down with the STG team to summarise the event and share what he learned.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Going Green – The Effect on Aircraft Cabin and Fire Safety’ and so everything was being discussed with sustainability and accessibility in mind. The primary focus for aerospace has always been, and will always be, on passenger safety. Any efforts to create a more sustainable or accessible industry must work with that.
Progress regarding sustainability is going to require change over time, to create a lasting impact. The slightest changes are going to make a difference, for example every gram taken off the weight of the aeroplane will result in less fuel being used. This presents us with an opportunity to help airlines and OEMs who are looking to be more sustainable, as we know that some of our products are more than 50% lighter than other solutions currently on the market.
Passenger experience post-Covid
After thousands of flights across the globe remained on the ground during the global shutdown, passenger numbers are still recovering. As a result, there is a continued focus on promoting a positive passenger experience in order to prove that flying is, once again, safe. There were several talks on cleaning the cabins of microbes, in particular from Boeing who revealed that air quality and cleanliness inside the cabin is actually better than that in the airport or any office area due to the airflow dynamics.
Passenger experience goes beyond cleanliness and hygiene, however. Once passengers are on the plane, airlines must ensure that the environment they are in, they can enjoy, making their travel experience just as memorable as the rest of their trip.
The impact of cleaning products
Talks also covered the impact of various cleaning solutions on the plastics and other materials being used within the cabin. While UVC cleaning has little-to-no impact on materials, the use of liquid disinfectants was under the microscope. Research revealed, that most plastics do not experience a change in mechanical strength following the application of disinfectant, nor do their flammability properties or colouring change. This is good news for STG and shows that our products will not be affected by these cleaning products.
Revolutionising passenger engagement
Despite decades of pre-flight safety announcements, excellent presentations from the FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute on passenger knowledge of safety protocols revealed some bizarre findings, such as the belief that life jackets are stored at the back of the cabin, and not knowing how to correctly fit breathing apparatus. It appears that many passengers simply aren’t listening to these demonstrations, and the solution is an exciting one.
A mobile gaming platform has been developed, requiring passengers to play their way through a safety demonstration, known as Serious Games. The research proved that retention vastly improves as a result of gamification. It may not be long until you see STG’s emergency floor path marking systems are appearing in an inflight game!
Alongside a focus on sustainability, passenger accessibility was also on the agenda. While a number of different options are being explored, it is clear that any changes will most likely require structural changes within the cabin, including the removal of interior panels, seat rows and other fixtures. Making flying more accessible for everyone is an important target, but any changes of this nature will undoubtedly reduce the available space for signage and power, making STG’s photoluminescent products an ideal solution.
The whole team found Andy’s summary of the FAA Fire and Cabin Safety Conference to be incredible insightful, equipping us with plenty of new ideas and opportunities to consider for future planning. We will undoubtedly be back for the next event in 2025 as we continue playing our role in improved cabin safety for all.