Crashworthiness Investigation of General Aviation Accidents 750537
General aviation accident investigations can provide valuable data to the design engineer concerning the crash performance of current models and can indicate needed improvements for occupant protection in future aircraft. Current statistics and the historical background of major investigations during the past 65 years are provided. A five-year study of general aviation accidents occurring in the State of Michigan is used as a basis to illustrate recent findings relative to occupant injury mechanisms, relative crash protection, and crashworthiness performance of current models of aircraft. Results indicate that the degree of structural damage may not relate to the degree of occupant injury when the cabin area remains relatively intact. A primary requirement is documented for adequate upper-torso restraint for all occupants, and the excellent crash performance of such a system is described. Relationships of injuries to structural components are shown, and examples of good fuselage crashworthiness but unsatisfactory seat/restraint systems noted. The primary conclusion is that many fatal and serious injuries still occur in low-velocity impacts where the cabin structure shows little damage but the occupant is inadequately protected from structural contact.