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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft Appendix B FAA Research and Development ORIGINAL MANDATES Prior to 1958, the responsibilities for aviation safety rule making and air traffic control were divided among the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and other federal agencies. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958, whose passage was stimulated by a series of midair collisions, established the Federal Aviation Agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The agency inherited the existing rule making and air traffic control responsibilities, plus the additional responsibility for controlling military as well as civil traffic. Subsequently, in 1965 the Federal Aviation Agency was renamed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and relocated from Commerce to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which had been recently created to promote nationally integrated and balanced transportation systems. Since it was originally established in 1958, part of the FAA's responsibilities has involved research and development. Section 312 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 originally charged the agency to ''undertake or supervise such developmental work and service testing as tends to the creation of improved aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances,'' which essentially limited the FAA to applied research in the testing and evaluation of then-available technology. NEW MANDATES The Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988 The Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988 (Public Law 100–591) amended the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 in two fundamental ways. First, i t added certain topics to those on which the FAA was already mandated to conduct research (research and development is addressed in Sections 312 and 316 of the Federal Aviation Act [49 U.S.C. App. 1353 et seq.], namely: aviation mainte nance (addresses the aging fleet) The (FAA) Administrator shall undertake or supervise research to develop technologies and to conduct data analysis for predicting the effects of aircraft design, maintenance, testing, wear, and fatigue on the life of aircraft and on air safety, to develop methods of analyzing and improving aircraft maintenance technology and practices (including nondestructive evaluation of aircraft structures). fire safety (addresses fire containment and fire resistance of engine fuel and cabin materials) The Administrator shall undertake or supervise research to assess the fire and smoke resistance of aircraft materials, to develop and improve fire and smoke containment systems for in-flight aircraft fires, and to develop advanced aircraft fuels with low flammability and technologies for containment of aircraft fuels for the purpose of minimizing post crash fire hazards. human factors (addresses performance of flight crew, aircraft mechanics, and air traffic controllers) The Administrator shall undertake or supervise research to develop a better understanding of the relationship between human factors and aviation accidents and between human factors and air safety, to enhance air traffic controller and mechanic and flight crew performance, to develop a human factor analysis of the hazards associated with new technologies to be used by air traffic controllers, mechanics, and flight crews, and to identify innovative and effective corrective measures for human errors which adversely affect air safety. dynamic simulation modeling of the air traffic control system (addresses air traffic capacity and control) The Administrator shall undertake or supervise a research program to develop dynamic simulation models of the air traffic control system which will provide analytical technology for predicting air traffic control safety and capacity problems, for evaluating planned research projects, and for testing proposed revisions in operations programs.
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft The second fundamental change was to establish the Civil Aeromedical Institute, which had formerly been created and operated solely at the discretion of the FAA, as a legislatively mandated arm of the FAA, and to specifically charge it with pursuing research in human factors as a crucial functional responsibility. The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives, which was responsible for creating this legislation, cited human factors as a vitally important research area and indicated its concurrence with expert testimony that "if significant improvements are to be made in the technology of transportation safety, they must come at the hands of human factors researchers, or not at all." In addition, the Act required two further items: a national aviation research plan and annual reports to Congress The Administrator shall prepare and transmit to Congress, a national aviation research plan. Not later than the date of the submission of the President's budget ... for each fiscal year ..., the Administrator shall review and revise the plan and pu blish and transmit the revised plan to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate. The plan shall describe, for a 15-year period, the research, engineering, and development considered by the Administrator necessary to ensure the continued capacity, safety, and efficiency of aviation in the United States, considering emerging technologies, forecasted needs of civil aeronautics, and provide the highest degree of safety in air travel. The Administrator shall report to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate on the accomplishments of the research completed during the preceding fiscal year. an FAA research advisory committee The advisory committee shall provide advice and recommendations to the Administrator regarding needs, objectives, plans, approaches, content, and accomplishments with respect to the aviation research program.... The committee shall also assist in assuring that such research is coordinated with similar research being conducted outside of the Federal Aviation Administration. The advisory committee shall be composed of not more than 20 members appointed by the Administrator from among persons who are not employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and who are especially qualified to serve on the committee by virtue of their education, training, or experience. The Administrator in appointing the members of the committee shall ensure that universities, corporations, associations, consumers, and other government agencies are represented. The chairman of the advisory committee shall be designated by the Administrator. The Aircraft Catastrophic Failure Prevention Research Act of 1990 Subsequent to the Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988, the Aircraft Catastrophic Failure Prevention Research Act of 1990, which was incorporated in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990 (Public Law 101–508), further amended Section 312, charging the FAA "to develop technologies and methods to assess the risk of and prevent defects, failures and malfunctions of products, parts, processes, and articles manufactured for use in aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers and appliances which could result in catastrophic failure of an aircraft." FAA RESPONSE TO THE NEW RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT MANDATES In response to the new congressional mandates discussed above, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed an Aircraft Safety Research Program which includes a Fire Research Program. These programs are discussed below. Aircraft Safety Research Program In the two research areas of aviation maintenance and fire safety, the FAA Technical Center (FAATC) established in 1991 a multifaceted Aircraft Safety Research Program and an Aircraft Safety Research Plan (FAA, 1991). The Plan concentrates on identifying improvements to the aircraft and its systems, specifically in the areas of: structural inspection and repair, systems reliability, crew alerting and awareness, fault detection, failure prevention, crash energy absorption,
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft fuel flammability, and materials fire resistance. These improvements will be directed primarily to newly designed aircraft, since by the year 2000 much of the current jet fleet will have been replaced by aircraft that will contain more technologically advanced electrical and mechanical systems, and their controls will most likely be electronic rather than mechanical. FAATC has established the Aircraft Safety Research Program's goal to be a 50 percent reduction, by the year 2000, in the current rate of fatalities due to aircraft accidents. Since the number of people using airplanes is expected to increase at an annual rate of 5 percent, a reduction of 50 percent in the number of fatalities over current rates by the year 2000 actually equates to a 62 percent reduction in the rate of fatalities. While fatalities have occurred in accidents that did not involve a crash, such as in in-flight fires, by far the largest number of fatalities occur because of crashes that destroy or disable the airplane structure. Crashes are divided roughly into nonsurvivable and survivable categories. Nonsurvivable crashes are so violent (e.g., CFIT) that the impact trauma is expected to be fatal for all airplane occupants. Survivable crashes involve violence that is not as severe and at least some of the airplane occupants are expected to survive. The accident database used by the FAA in the Aircraft Safety Research Plan shows that, in the past, about half of aircraft accident fatalities have occurred in impact nonsurvivable crashes and half have occurred in impact survivable crashes. In impact nonsurvivable crashes, lives can be saved only if the accident is prevented or made somehow survivable. In impact survivable accidents, improved post-crash survival provisions, in addition to accident prevention, can also be effective. Since about 50 percent of accident fatalities in the past have occurred in impact nonsurvivable accidents, the Plan points out that it is clearly not possible to achieve the Program's goal of reducing the fatality rate by 62 percent through implementation of post-crash survival measures alone, irrespective of how effective such measures may be. The FAA's goal therefore requires that accident prevention be a crucial part of the Plan. Hence the FAA established the Program's first-tier objective to be the prevention of aircraft systems failures that would cause an accident. If an accident does occur and it is an impact survivable crash, improved post-crash impact protection provisions would be beneficial since, in the past, about 30 percent of all aircraft accident fatalities have been due to impact in impact survivable crashes. Therefore, a second objective is to improve passenger survivability due to impact in impact survivable crashes. If an impact survivable crash does occur and passengers survive the impact, the major threat thereafter is fire fed by jet fuel. In the past, about 20 percent of all aircraft accident fatalities have been due to fire in impact survivable crashes. Therefore a third objective is to prevent fire in impact survivable crashes. If fire does occur, a fourth objective is to retard its spread into and through the passenger cabin in order to provide sufficient time for passengers to evacuate the burning aircraft before they are burned or become incapacitated by heat or toxic gases. Fire Research Program Included in the Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988 was a specific mandate for the FAA to establish research efforts "to assess the fire and smoke resistance of aircraft materials, to develop and improve fire and smoke containment systems for in-flight aircraft fires, and to develop advanced aircraft fuels with low flammability and technologies for containment of aircraft fuels for the purpose of minimizing post-crash fire hazards." For many years the FAATC has made a substantial effort in research on fire safety. The Fire Safety Branch has supported the development of several new Federal Aviation Requirements regulations (e.g., more fire-resistant passenger seats, passenger cabin liners, cargo compartment liners, etc.), participated in NTSB investigations of aircraft accidents involving fire, and provided applied research and test support to the aircraft industry as well as other FAA organizations. To comply with the mandates of the new legislation to expand its fire-safety work to encompass more fundamental fire-safety research, the FAA has established a Fire Research Program and developed a comprehensive Fire Research Plan (FAA, 1993). The goal of the Fire Research Program is to eliminate fire as a cause of fatalities in aircraft accidents. To implement the Program, the FAA created a separate Fire Research Branch and staffed it with experienced and knowledgeable personnel, some of whom had previously been associated with the Fire Safety Branch. The Fire Research Plan has identified the following fire research areas to be pursued: fire modeling, vulnerability analysis, fire-resistant materials, improved systems, advanced suppression, and fuel safety. The technical products of the research will include: new fire-safety design tools, new technology safety products, more economical fire-suppression systems, ultra-fire-resistant materials, tailored fuel properties, and advanced fire-safety assessment technologies.
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft Equipment and personnel to support studies in fire modeling and fire-resistant materials were already available, so activities in these two areas were initiated in 1993. FAA Interim Materials Development Criteria Since there is at present a lack of knowledge concerning the relationships between a material's composition and how to relate its bench-scale fire-test performance to large-scale tests, the FAATC has proposed extremely conservative, preliminary materials fire performance guidelines as the initial screening criteria. However, as fire modeling and probabilistic risk assessment tools from other initiatives in the Fire Research Program improve over the course of the Program and more full-scale test data become available to better relate bench-scale fire test data to ignition and flame spread in aircraft, fire performance guidelines may be relaxed consistent with maintaining a totally fire-resistant aircraft cabin as demonstrated in full-scale performance tests. The preliminary screening criteria proposed by the FAA parallel those established by the U.S. Navy for composite materials used in submarines (DeMarco, 1991; DOD, 1991). The interim guidelines adopt the Navy requirements for oxygen index, flame-spread index, combustion gas generation, smoke, and smoke toxicity, but extend the ignitability and heat release guidelines to require essentially noncombustible behavior and add a full test requirement. • Ignitability Objective: To reduce the propensity for ignition of cabin materials in a post-crash jet fuel fire. Requirements: No piloted ignition when tested at 50 kW/m2 irradiance in accordance with ASTM E-1354 incident heat fluxes of 50 ± 10 kW/m2 (corresponding to an equilibrium surface temperature of about 650°C) are measured near the bottom and center of open doors in passenger aircraft exposed to external jet fuel fires. Organic polymeric materials with decomposition temperatures in this range are nonignitable when tested at 50 kW/m 2 irradiance (Kim et al., 1993). • Heat Release Objective: To delay cabin flashover in a post-crash jet fuel fire. Requirements: Maximum heat release rate less than 50 kW/m2 for 1.6-mm-thick materials tested in a vertical orientation at an irradiance level of 75 kW/m2 in accordance with ASTME-1354. Heat fluxes measured above open doors in passenger aircraft exposed to external fuel fires are 75 ± 50 kW/m2, depending on fire size and wind conditions (Brown, 1979; Hill et al., 1979; Quintiere et al., 1985). Correlation of time-to-flashover data from full-scale aircraft cabin fire tests with both Qc8/3 and the flashover parameter Qcpeak/tign indicate that the maximum heat release rate must be less than about 40–50 kW/m2 to delay flashover of thermally stable (Tdecomp ~ 650°C) cabin materials for 15 minutes in a post-crash fire scenario. • Full-Scale Aircraft Cabin Fire Tests Objectives: Performance criteria for fire-safe materials systems. Demonstrate survivable aircraft cabin conditions for 15 minutes in post-crash fuel fires. Requirement: No flashover or incapacitation from combustion gases for at least 15 minutes in full-scale aircraft cabin fire tests by the FAA under quiescent wind conditions. These fire performance guidelines will be met by synthesizing new materials; characterizing and modeling their thermochemical and thermophysical behavior in fires at the atomic, micro-, and macroscopic levels; and applying this knowledge to the design of new materials with better thermal stability, lower heat release, and tailored thermophysical properties. Supporting research in processing and collaboration with the materials and aircraft industries will help ensure that advanced fire-safe materials are also cost-effective, reliable, and serviceable so as to increase the fireworthiness and add value to future aircraft. The need for fire-safe materials systems that are light-weight with better strength and serviceability and with lower installation costs in aircraft will be satisfied by polymers, ceramics, composites, and additives which are economical to synthesize and process and have minimum environmental impact. Research will be basic in nature and will focus on synthesis, characterization, modeling, and processing of new materials and materials combinations to improve the fire performance, increase the reliability, and reduce the cost of next-generation cabin materials. A description of what is needed in each of these research areas follows. Synthesis The synthesis effort will focus on developing materials and synthetic routes to materials that are environmentally sound and possess exceptional thermal and hydrolytic stability, high char yield/low pyrolysis fraction, low density,
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft low heat release, and moderate temperature or thermal processing requirements. Applications include rigid and resilient foams, decorative films, textile fibers, adhesives, and fiber-reinforced composites of interest are novel materials, materials combinations, additives, blends, and composites. These include, but are not limited to, melt processable/soluble liquid-crystal polymers, self-reinforcing molecular composites, nanocomposites, nanophase materials, multiphase materials, organometallics, organic/inorganic hybrids and copolymers, low-cost polymer-precursor ceramic materials, inorganic resins, and high strength/low density ceramic resins and coatings. Low-cost nanoscale reinforcements (fibers, whiskers), which could impart fire-resistance through surface catalytic activity or improve specific mechanical performance of base resins to reduce fire load, are of interest. Needed are novel halogen-free polymers, phosphorous-, silicon-, boron-, and sulfur-containing polymers—particularly in combination with characterization and modeling activities that seek to understand the relationship between backbone or pendant heteroatoms and the pyrolysis kinetics and char-forming tendency of organic materials. Synthesis and characterization of metal-containing polymers and additives that mimic the high efficiency and synergistic fire-retardant activity of antimony compounds is needed. Renewable, biodegradable, fire-resistant, low-density materials are required as are concepts for polymers that self-extinguish by decomposing into gas-phase fire suppressants. A "master polymer resin" may be developed that would combine exceptional fire-resistance mechanical properties and ease of processibility so as to find broad use as aircraft cabin materials and in structural composites at reasonable installed cost. Mechanistic studies to understand and discover novel organic, inorganic, and semi-inorganic polymerization reactions are important. Thermally stable, crosslinking reactions for structural thermoset resins that do not generate volatile products (e.g., cyanate, acetylenic, Michael addition) should be studied mechanistically, and new crosslinking reactions for organic and inorganic resins should be discovered or adapted to fire-safe polymers. The synthesis effort is expected to yield: Fire-safe thermoset and thermoplastic engineering polymers suitable for use in cabin interior and structural applications including molded parts, adhesives, films, rigid foams, coatings, and composite matrices. Material should be low in cost; easily fabricated at moderate temperatures on existing or available processing equipment; generate no volatile products during cure; possess high strength, toughness, and hygrothermal durability; and be environmentally benign during fabrication, use, and disposal. Fire-safe elastomer suitable for use in resilient foam applications (seat cushions, pillows), adhesives, and sealants. Material should be low in cost; easily processible at moderate temperatures on existing or available equipment; have high elongation, good recovery, abrasion and tear resistance, and hygrothermal durability; and be environmentally benign during fabrication, use, and disposal. Fire-safe fibers for seating upholstery, tapestry, blankets, and carpeting application. Material should be low in cost; processable into fibers and yarns on existing textile fiber spinning equipment; have good mechanical properties, colorability, and hygrothermal durability; and be environmentally benign during fabrication, use, and disposal. Characterization Fundamental new test methods that are less expensive and can more reliably predict or simulate fire behavior of low heat release materials in service are needed. Also of interest are innovative analytical techniques and combinations of techniques that provide new insight and fundamental information about the thermochemical and thermophysical processes of solid-state thermal decomposition, thermo-oxidation, char formation, pyrolysis, gasification, nonflaming and flaming combustion in support of molecular modeling and mechanistic materials fire models. A better understanding of fire behavior, including radiant and convective energy transport at burning surfaces, flame chemistry, smoke and soot generation and their radiant properties, are necessary for development of engineering materials models and for application of these models to bench scale reaction-to-fire tests such as the Cone Calorimeter. The effect of flame-retardant additives on the heat release, mass-loss rate, heat of gasification, char, and smoke production need to be measured and correlated with full-scale fire behavior of organic polymeric materials at elevated heat fluxes. Also needed is an understanding of the effect of physical combinations of materials (e.g., laminates, coatings, fire blocking-layers, etc.) representing real component construction on fire-related properties. Rheology, thermal analysis, and mechanics studies to determine the utility of ultra-low-density materials, polymers, polymer-additive systems, blends, networks, composites, fibers, and elastomers with demonstrated fire safety or fire-safety potential are also needed. Research will seek to develop understanding of the underlying principles connecting physical, mechanical, and chemical phenomena. The characterization effort is expected to yield: analytical methodologies for characterizing combustion of low heat release materials, bench-scale reaction-to-fire test methods for low heat release materials, and thermal properties of chars and materials at fire temperatures.
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft Modeling Computational and theoretical modeling of the chemical and mechanical behavior of materials exposed to fire and severe thermal environments is needed. Atomistic computational modeling of homogeneous materials using molecular dynamics simulations is needed to study solid-state thermal decomposition, thermo-oxidation, char formation, and gasification (fuel production) rate in relation to inter-and intramolecular bond strength(s), bond strength distributions, molecular mobility, diffusion of gases and small molecules, and the role of morphological features on these processes. Atomistic computational modeling of thermally induced reactions of metal/polymer mixtures will help understand the mechanistic processes responsible for the anomalous high efficiency and synergistic activity of antimony-oxide flame retardants and help design replacements for these potentially toxic heavy metal compounds. Computational studies of surface catalytic effects on thermal and thermo-oxidative degradation and char formation processes at internal material interfaces must be performed to assess and design effective additives, blends, and surface treatments for fibers and particulate additives in an effort to explore the limits of reduced flammability using existing materials. Theoretical analytical models that seek to describe and predict reaction kinetics, phase behavior, and miscibility of fire-resistant polymer blends and fire-retardant additives are needed. Determining the fire hazard of polymers and polymer composite materials in airframes, skins, and cabins will require accurate engineering models which capture the essential physics, chemistry, and mechanical impact of heat transfer, gasification, heat release, flame spread, smoke generation, and char formation for use in field fire models of post-crash scenarios. Mechanistic analytic models for thermal degradation, pyrolysis, and char formation are necessary to gain a physical understanding of the relationship between these quantities and to connect the molecular modeling with engineering fire models. Sophisticated thermostructural models must be developed for fire-exposed composites which can account for strength degradation. Theoretical mechanics models of time-and temperature-dependent buckling and creep of viscoelastic polymers and anisotropic polymer composites are necessary to assess the structural capability of fire-exposed airframes, empennage, and secondary structures such as floor beams. Theoretical mechanical models will be developed to provide guidance for toughening and durability modification of typically brittle, high-temperature polymers used as resins and adhesives, and to identify novel high-strength micro-and macrostructures for ultra-lightweight foams and cores. The modeling effort is expected to yield: validated computational methodologies for molecular design of fire-resistant polymers; mechanistic models for pyrolysis and char formation of aircraft materials; engineering models for ignition, combustion, heat release, heat transfer, and flame spread of materials for use in risk assessment (structural response codes and fire field models); and theoretical and engineering models for load-bearing capability of polymers and composites during and after fire exposure. Processing Fabrication processes for advanced fire-safe materials must be fully reproducible, verifiable, and able to maintain tight tolerances in order to replace existing materials in passenger aircraft. Research on processing to reliably provide novel materials with uniformly improved properties at lower cost is of interest. On-line remote process monitoring for continuous processing via reactive extrusion and pultrusion are of interest particularly when coupled with chemometric or neural network techniques for intelligent processing. Relationships among processing, fire performance, and mechanical performance are of interest for reactive extrusions and processing-generated microstructures. Chemorheology of fire-safe thermoset reactions, low-temperature processing routes to high-temperature materials, electromagnetic processing (ultrasonics, microwave, e-beam, etc.), rheology of ternary blends, process sensors, recycling concepts for noncombustible materials are of interest. Also of interest are novel processing-generated microstructures with superior fire resistance and innovative processing routes to high-strength, ultra-low-density core materials and materials systems. The modeling effort is expected to yield: on-line process monitoring and control technology for high-volume, economical, tight tolerance production of polymers and composites; low-temperature routes to high-temperature-capable materials; and novel processing-generated microstructures and ultra-low-density core materials. Formal collaboration among materials researchers and fire scientists in academia, government, and industry is anticipated. Installation of new materials in aircraft will require close cooperation among researchers, materials manufacturers, and the aircraft industries to develop a supplier base, manufacturing technology, and cost and performance requirements for new materials. The FAA anticipates sponsoring an industrial research program in parallel to the academic research program as part of the fire-safe materials effort to encourage the development of precompetitive industrial technology for fire-safe materials and to leverage core
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Fire- and Smoke-Resistant Interior Materials for Commercial Transport Aircraft technologies and commercial production capabilities of key chemical and materials producers. REFERENCES Brown, L.J. 1979. Cabin Hazards From a Large External Fuel Fire Adjacent to an Aircraft Fuselage. FAA-RD-79-65. Atlantic City, N.J.: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center. DeMarco, R.A. 1991. Composite applications at sea: fire-related issues. Proceedings of the 36th International SAMPE Symposium 36(2):1928–1937. DOD (U.S. Department of Defense). 1991. Fire and Toxicity Test Methods and Qualification Procedure for Composite Material Systems Used in Hull, Machinery, and Structural Applications Inside Naval Submarines. MIL-STD-2031(SH). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). 1991. Air Safety Research Plan . Atlantic City, N.J.: FAA Technical Center. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). 1993. Fire Research Plan. Atlantic City, N.J.: FAA Technical Center. Hill, R.G., G.R. Johnson, and C.P. Sarkos. 1979. Postcrash Fuel Fire Hazard Measurements in a Wide-Body Aircraft Cabin. FAA-NA-79-42. Atlantic City, N.J.: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center. Kim, P.K., P. Pierini, and R. Wessling. 1993. Thermal and flammability properties of poly (p-phenyleneben-zobisoxazole). Journal of Fire Sciences 112(4):296–307. Quintiere, J.G., V. Babrauskas, L. Cooper, M. Harkleroad, K. Steckler, and A. Tewarson. 1985. The Role of Aircraft Panel Materials in Cabin and Their Properties. DOT/FAA/CT-84/30. Atlantic City, N.J.: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center.
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