have application for large-scale passenger transportation in NextGen, NASA is seeking to improve the crash and survivability characteristics of these aircraft, which have unique crashworthiness and survivability requirements due to their configurations (for example, heavy mechanical components located above the passenger compartment) and flight operations (for example, impact velocities that often contain a significant vertical component). Current practice for demonstrating crashworthiness relies mainly on full-scale crash testing, the cost of which limits the amount of data available to establish confidence in designs and validates designs only for a specific set of crash parameters and terrain. The Fundamental Aeronautics Program’s research seeks to improve the models and methodologies (validated by performing component and full-scale helicopter crash tests) used to predict crashworthiness of rotorcraft and to develop and demonstrate advanced structural concepts for improved energy absorption and crashworthiness. This research employs NASA’s specialized expertise and facilities in crashworthiness technologies, including its Landing and Impact Research Facility and scientific and engineering expertise in impact dynamics for spacecraft return.
The remainder of this report consists of three chapters. Chapter 2 explains the sources of input in NASA’s determination of important safety research needs and how the agency uses this input to establish research priorities. Chapter 3 examines the research that is being undertaken to address each of six safety concerns that NASA presented as being the main objectives of safety research. These objectives are assessed with respect to each of the four questions in the legislative request for this study. Chapter 4 integrates the information from these chapters to produce a series of findings and concludes with recommended actions.