08 September 2016, the Royal Aeronautical Society Heathrow Branch successfully concluded the first lecture of the 2016/17 season at the British Airways Waterside Theatre. The lecture, presented by Professor Edwin R. Galea, Director of Fire Safety Engineering Group of University of Greenwich, was entitled – Safe Evacuation From Aircraft: the Application of Fire and Evacuation Simulation to Aircraft Design, Certification and Accident Investigation.
Professor Galea, one of the world’s top experts on aircraft evacuation, has been working in the area of Computational Fire Engineering research for over 30 years. He has won a number of awards for his work, including the Queen’s Anniversary prize in 2002, the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Award in 2006, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects Medal of Distinction for 2013 and the 2014 “The Guardian” University Award for Research Impact.
In his presentation, Professor Galea first introduced the concepts and the importance of utilising fire and evacuation modelling in aircraft design and certification applications. He provided several example applications to illustrate some of the techniques used in some of his previous researches and projects, such as VIP configured Boeing 747, Airbus A380 certification, as well as the revolutionary Blended Wing Body passenger aircraft – a conceptual airliner that is capable of carrying over a thousand passengers.
Professor Galea also presented the techniques that he has developed and used in the forensic analysis of the fatal Manchester Airport Boeing 737 fire in 1985 which resulted in the loss of 55 lives. Thirty years after the accident, fire and evacuation modelling has been advanced to the point where it is possible to reconstruct the accident and examine the factors that contributed to the large loss of life. By analysing different elements and contributing factors of this well-known Boeing 737 accident, Professor Galea was able to show to the audiences, the reconstructed spread of the Boeing 737 fire and explore a number of scenarios in which the extent of the fatalities may have been significantly reduced. In particular, he discussed the impact of door opening times on evacuation and survivability.
Towards the end, Professor Galea also discussed some elements of the recent British Airways B777 engine fire in Las Vegas and the Emirates B777-300 fire in Dubai. He mentioned the impact of using modern composite and fire retardant materials in aircraft design and also the influence of using advanced simulation models in pilot and crew training.
Professor Galea finished the presentation with a short video showcasing his latest research achievements in the area of utilising virtual reality technology in fire simulation and simulation training for security personnel, particularly in airport environments, where raising security concerns and terrorist attacks have certainly become a real concern. No doubt, Professor Galea brought in a very informative lecture to the Heathrow Branch members. His years of research and his well-known depth of understanding of Fire Safety attracted many airline crew members, safety trainers and engineers to the lecture and they were not disappointed. Professor Galea produced one of the most memorable lectures in our Branch and we all appreciated his inspiring presentation.
Looking forward, in the October 2016 lecture, the RAeS Heathrow Branch is welcoming the Line Training Captain, Paul Catanach from TAG Aviation (UK) Ltd. to present his rather entertaining experience, as a bush pilot at the Northern Territories in Australia – a real “Dash in and Dash out”. You can now register our lectures online at tiny.cc/RAeSLHR.
William Li, 09 September 2016