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If this is the only way to fly a five part series of programs examining the safety of America's air transport system produced by station WB f o in Buffalo New York for national educational radio. On our last program we examined the operations of the FAA as Flight Standards Division observing its far reaching effects on the air transport industry in assuring compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations the standards must have some source and in fact one way in which standards are developed is through research at FAA national aviation facilities experimental Center located at the Municipal Airport of Atlantic City New Jersey. The center conducts research and evaluation of FAA procedures for new safety devices and then reports their results to FAA headquarters where the flight standard service may write the new product or procedure into the regulations to get some background on a fact.
I spoke with Edwin L. Shoop new facts public affairs officer the official mission of a backdoor in the bill terminology the national aviation facilities experimental site are used to provide and administer a nationwide test center of benefit to the Federal Aviation Administration's research and development programs and to perform the Test and Evaluation effort that is required as a part of these programs actually not a fact itself goes back about six months beyond the establishment of our Federal Aviation Administration. In the mid-1950s it became very apparent that the popularity of air transportation and the increased number of aircraft that were utilizing the air space were fast making our national aviation systems that outmoded at that time President Eisenhower formed a committee which became known as the Curtis Committee. These people went out and looked into our nation alleviation systems to see exactly
what problem existed in this forest. We were concerned rapier came back with two very significant recommendations. First they recommended that a civil aviation research and development effort be initiated soon as possible. Also they recommended that there be a step at least an independent Federal Aviation Agency. So in 1957 the Congress enacted the airways Modernization Act and thereby established the airways modernization board. As this organization was came into being and initiated this research and development activity they were soon indeed of let us say in aviation research and development proving ground somewhere where these various systems these modernization features could be tested. After looking at many installations around the country and knowing of the plan for the United States Navy to phase out of the Atlantic City Naval Air Station.
This site was chosen and established as the nation alleviation facilities experimental setup. The Navy moved out on June 30th of 1958 the airways modernization board moved in on July 1st. Well in that same year 1958 the Congress passed door an act that our Federal Aviation Act. This took the former Civil Aeronautics Administration parts of at that time what was the Civil Aeronautics Board and this newly organized Airways modernization board and consolidated them into what became the Federal Aviation Agency. Of course today we have the Federal Aviation Administration just as of this past April 1st when the organization became a part of the new cabinet level Department of Transportation. Solely FAA taking a look for what had been initially established by the airways modernization board continue the initial research and development effort it
expanded it to a considerable extent and continues to expand in the name of the safety and progress of aviation and old role. We have diversified to a great degree here than a fact. The Test and Evaluation of. FAA research and development efforts are still our primary mission. The primary areas in which we work are in the area of air traffic control communications navigation airports and airport facilities and the aircraft safety research. All of these programs that consist of some 300 projects per year some of them running a matter of weeks. Some of them extending over a period of several years depending on what the requirement is who has established the requirement and what is really required to solve the problem or improve the situation as it may exist today. Something else that may be of special note is the fact that
regardless of. Who we may talk to in the various improvements of aviation safety and modernization of our aviation systems no effect persay does not generate its own work effort. Within the Federal Aviation Administration you have a number of organizations involved in research and development. For example the systems research and development service the aircraft development service the Office of Aviation Medicine and the office of supersonic transport development. As they establish programs open research and development. These may be research contracts into colleges and universities. The development of the actual equipment to FAA inspired designs and specifications. Then as the procedure or the equipment or the entire system as it may be in some cases are actually developed. They are assigned to Natick as
specific projects for Test and Evaluation to see if this procedure this piece of equipment or the system will really serve the purpose for which it was intended and really serve it to the extent it is required to make it an operational item in the field. The center today consists of some five thousand eighty four acres and as far as FAA employees are concerned the workforces of about 2000 people. Of particular note is the fact that of these 2000 people employees over 100 and 60 different occupational specialties running from relatively unskilled personnel in some of our laboratory functions to doctors of science. The airfield itself which takes care of about 3000 acres of property incorporates four runways. Our primary runway or instrument runway 10000 feet long 200 feet wide is probably the best equipped
runway in the world today. Not that our traffic here in Atlantic City is this great but Lyly runway does serve an operational purpose both for commercial traffic for private aviation than for military aviation. It also serves as a laboratory. Therefore we have located on the runway all of the. Electronic and visual navigation aids that you would expect to find at any of our major jet airports. But we also have a rather extensive ray of experimental equipments both in the electronic field and in the visual field that are under Test and Evaluation now for possible use into the future. So we have the best equipment that is in existence today plus the experimental varieties that we will not see perhaps for two three four five six years to come out into the future. But different types of instrument landing systems or weather landing systems lighting support systems that
may serve the purposes as we continuously move on down the line toward the point where even if the pilot cannot see the runway he will still be able to land the airplane as long as the runway is in the safe condition. Edwin A public affairs officer for FAA national aviation facilities experimental center to get a better idea of what kind of work is going on in a fact in the area of aircraft safety. I spoke with Harvey L. Hansberry chief of Navy aircraft branch about the purpose and work of the aircraft branch. The purpose of the aircraft is to increase. The level of flight safety of the aircraft as a vehicle. Which means the structure propulsion systems instrumentation equipment and even flight performance what kinds of studies have been done in the past by this branch of the studies that range from the development of light fire protection. We're in the process of developing
protection against lightning strikes. We're in process of structural studies to decrease the number of fatalities during survivable accidents. We cover the development of recorders or recording flight parameters to be investigated have to reconceive occurred there. As I say anything associated with increasing the safety level of the aircraft as a vehicle the products of these studies in our part of airline aircraft flying today right by the federal aviation regulations by the aircraft one of the major studies underway now on a branch here are the single major study. We consider to be the development of fuels modified to decreases a variety of crash fires or eliminate grass fires or other attacks on the same problem I have to do with the improvement of the
the tankage to bereavement leave huge or at least minimize leakage as a result of crash. Improving the requirements for seats and structures. Creating additional emergency exits by the use of liquid propellant. These are the major ones in the crash area. Harvey L. Hansberry chief of Navy aircraft branch for more information about the research into the new gel turban feels going on in a fact which holds significant potential benefits for the airline passenger I spoke with Ralph Russell and Robert Simon. Project managers for the controlled flammability fuel program. Why would an air passenger would want to be on an aircraft with control flammability fuel aboard. Well we hope to reduce the belly combined
belly regression dishes by hand is control really feels very boring. How is how is the the fuel different from ordinary aviation fuel. It's thinking you might call it think of it I might start bashfully it this way if you are in a crash does not spill an apparent Israeli boy missed class or one big puddles crash and it reduces its chance to come. Her darker hard surfaces and the other eye open plains are rare and precious thing I've been that kind of thing you're trying to minimize But this is the the crash injuries due to the fire the fire zone that's going around. How did how did that feel different terms of rate of burning. We've already established that
when the aircraft crashes the fuel will not splatter all over the question though is will it still burn just as readily as a carousel if you lurkers. Barrett do straight the flame propagation rates reduced about rate 5 percent with thinking fuel. Well what about the operational problems with something like this so you would think that well if some of it on the table here. None of us looks it looks like I like vaseline or similar consistency or jello. How would you get it from the tank to the engine. What we refer to the rear as right before he said arranging a hard gel fuel he comes of the biggest problem we encountered in running there was a general who was moving if you're from me. Take yourself to a plant once and once you have been pushed to pump the pump. Cheers it up moves along the slower it too it reaches the end users when it burns on the engine as a liquid not as that of the little time it actually gets into the
spring of holes and into the combustion chamber it is what it is in liquid form. There's a saying essentially the same spray pattern in that combustion as it would have it would have been liquid initially at the end what's the nature of the additive that you put in. Well it's it's kind of a crown developed for the On the contrary. It has been warm chemical name. Anyway we go out to play when I was sick my point one there's a couple of jars of it on the table and it's a very consistencies. Is that done by just varying the amount of the additive you put in a given volume of you and your sister you know I mean you're lacking is it what we call a gel has a different chemical structure and with this other you know how do you raise it cause the motion looks like shaving cream. Like a maybe and a motion. What what's the advantage of having different the different kinds of
help. Well they're both very rigorous study for which will be the best. So prove to be better in some cases and other things we have may have. Exactly what the ultimate thinking he was going to look like might be that the president already has the regions up to the present time working with the type of use We've seen it seems that the most effective ones in this crash probably are the ones with the high risk I sleep well and generally the emotions are discussed. What kind of response if any have you had from airline operators who would be the ones to benefit from such and such a development. Oh there are various. Also while wearing problems you really need to feel rare and present think you're just a large jet aircraft.
We are the future Erik's microcell contract which sure will do it. Compatibility of what we call control my ability fuel with the fuel system in jet aircraft. That's including the fuel system in the airframe in the engine we hope then flying out all the problems of having all the find possible solutions. We know races that don't system if you will make changes to our major problems right here. Just briefly what kind of tests you've been doing with this kind of fuel here in the Senate where we have several. The first test we put every new private thrill is it just requires a gerund sample that we type uses sample and Styrofoam plotting an air gun and shoot the fuel through a steel mesh out our open fire and they're just sitting around.
This sewer we think duplicate say on high and I crash where a pool tank may open in the fuel. Squeeze out through the opening form a mist cloud on this arrogant things done that very thing killing down fuel oil making me carry Bashir and make it go into a mist and then quit the fire being here and it wrapping night while we check for fuels with that test first and it looks pretty good. That simple task in these times. Then we have surplus F-86 when things which are a whole hundred twenty hands and a few who put this on a catapult and shoot it into a steel plate. Where we have a couple of open fires and see how much you meet your wife ruptures of time Burns how much don't we also know I drop drop drop test and you can ensure that you put down our
no firing differences and see how it can split up and there we have one more test we've been we ran where we drive a few times on the runway for 14 or feet and as the bottom rips out OK. We have one carry a pocket with Mission source because we don't want for a probability of where we get from but so we have a spark generated right here and we run each test too and of course the regular few rounds out. And Burns rapidly and we lose the whole country taking action and the little thinking you'll see how little rooster tail fire as it's being dry. Take it comes to a standstill the fire just about goes out. Do you have any estimate of when this kind of fuel will be common usage. We we don't. I probably was going to be still just about
the flight stage of that experience. Playstation. Ralph Russell and Robert Simon project managers for an effects controlled flammability fuel program. Another very significant and potentially beneficial program underway at the experimental center is the research into increasing the possibility of passenger egress from a downed airplane through explosive emergency exits. That is the blasting of several large holes in the fuselage of the airplane to make evacuation faster and therefore safer. John Summers of the aircraft branch which is conducting the research explains. Emergency Exit studies is. Primarily the use of two fluids each of which are inert. And which when mixed together and initiated will blow a hole in the side of the airplane. Well he grabs some of the passengers.
You know it's a basic form of course. Safety is provided in the fact that neither of these flowing fluids in themselves will explode. But when mixed together very become an explosive mixture you plan to have some sort of system. The passenger will operate at his own seat. Each passenger will have something like this. No passengers will probably not be able to operate as it will be either a pilot control or someone who is knowledgeable in the control of the system was one of the general method why wouldn't an operator as you said it's an explosive charge of some sort how does it go about doing what. Well it will be initiated by probably by a propeller propeller actually a device which is an arm to first of all have to be armed and then this for power actuator device. Well mix the fluids
and also provide the initial charge to cause the explosive to want to detonate. I have been testing this here actually had it right. We were made several tests today and if you're working with aircraft manufacture. On the software. This is strictly an FAA study which what is it what's been the aircraft manufacturers response to this kind of structural work. At the present time it's strictly a study. For the FAA. There are quite a few safety aspects that have to be have to be looked into and have to be actually these are problems which have to be solved. And. The use of the SS is quite far in the future. I mean one thing that comes to mind is that most aircraft the floor and most are transporting just maybe 10 feet above the runway surface.
If you blow a hole in the side of the airplane and people start tumbling out when you're going to have something of a drop to the ground they will be providing ropes or some means of. Getting to. It is there any is there any danger of rupturing other systems in the aircraft when you blow a hole in the side of it to do any fuel lines or electrical lines or some such. Running through the wall. No reason we remove it. In order to use this system. You would have to be a completely safe system and. You would never be put into use. So today studies just look at the system. At present we have no plans actually to require such a system. John Summers of NE FX aircraft branch explaining the work of the structure section and the development of explosive emergency exits for airline aircraft. In this last
election Mr Summers is joined by Mr Hansberry again as we discuss other research into making the airplane safer as a vehicle. I asked Mr. Summers about the use of rearward facing passenger seats. There seems to be a problem with passengers accepting it. This seems to be the biggest problem. The seats tested Phoenix John there were some were facing seats but these were actually forward facing seats reverse rather than design that were facing seats right in one of the Phoenix airplanes up in there but which one of these were actually and these are planes immersed these were seats were actually designed to be refacing they were somewhat DC 7 has at least two or four seats which are what facing us. But in these failed back failed like I remember the seat backs what dull crack yet there are these
Phoenix that you're talking about I gather the ones where aircraft were deliberately crashed on 16 49. DC 7 16 49 is walking constellations in. The very late Constellation are still on still another another a safety feature that seats and that's it. Mostly in the newspapers is something developed by the Martin people would like to an airbag that inflates between the passenger and the seat in front of him to minimize head injuries and so on and deceleration in an accident might have been the result of this. Type of thing. We have conducted a few tests on this air airbag restraint system recall. But the big problem with that appears to be passenger interest after the air bag has been inflated it has to have some way of getting your bag out of the way. This problem hasn't been solved.
Is there other work that the branch is doing in terms of minimizing injuries in the aircraft and minimizing. The injuries were it was only from striking something in the aircraft. This this most of this work falls into the medical field which is you know Capri stars and wrong city minimizing passenger injury. Our primary function is to keep the passenger in the seat to structure her through proper restraint. You mention that the aircraft branch deals with research in survivable accidents right contrasted with I'm not sure my wife knew there was a difference. What curse there hasn't been some very severe accidents in which people survived where let's say the law genius would say nobody could possibly survive. We would still consider that a non survivable accident and
I always wonder when the structure is so crushed and the dualities are so great that people just simply should not survive. The classic non-survival black person going to the side of a mountain proves you don't expect anybody to survive if somebody does. This is really accidental. The survivor what I would consider to be a more or less controlled landing with some trouble. So it was not a perfect landing but. The best and yours are such that each of us should survive the structures at least. To protect them and maintain them in the proper position. Problem there will be fire season. That's right. Fire and smoke. Might you work with it with no improvements in the safety of the aircraft itself as a vehicle. The question I would have to ask is. As of right now I get aboard a passenger aircraft is it's a cure I think it's probably the safest means of transportation exists you have
a difficult time when you get various things I mean they compare automobiles and passenger miles and ton miles and literally thousands of ways you can pass the test but the level of safety and American aircraft is constantly improved. It's only through continued effort that it can continue to operate crew of course and use being made of aviation the number of airplanes involved anymore means that the numbers per se made what. If you want to count accidents as such but you have to look at the numbers of planes flying to see what the safety level really is. Think of nothing that you have to consider is that the crew members or commanders are professionals and trained originally here playing whatever their duties are as my rosary when she answers.
The only way to fly
Episode Number
2 Of 5
Producing Organization
WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
State University of New York at Buffalo
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
Series about the safety aspects of commercial airlines and commercial air transport in the U.S. This prog.: A trip to the National Aviation Facilites Experimental Center, where the latest research for improving aircraft safety is performed.
Consumer Affairs and Advocacy
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Producing Organization: WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: State University of New York at Buffalo
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-19-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:09
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Chicago: “The only way to fly; 2 Of 5,” 1968-05-19, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 9, 2022,
MLA: “The only way to fly; 2 Of 5.” 1968-05-19. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 9, 2022. <>.
APA: The only way to fly; 2 Of 5. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from