Crashing can be good. Crashing can yield useful data. And, especially when properly managed and controlled, crashing is an absolute necessity before new seats can be sold or delivered to airlines.
Recaro can now, for the first time, manage that testing in-house.
Note: Recaro provided a stipend to offset travel costs for me to attend the event. Analysis, as always, remains my own.
Modern engineering relies heavily on computer modeling and simulations. But when the time comes to certify new seats for installation on an aircraft the real physical product must be tested. The manufacturer formally received certification for the new crash test sled at its Schwabish Hall headquarters earlier this month, opening the door to more and faster development cycles for its seating products.
Previously Recaro, like most vendors, used a third party to handle the testing services. That came with significant costs, including development teams traveling to the remote site, and scheduling challenges to produce the necessary results. With the new sled in-house, the company expects to perform up to 200 tests annually, all on their own schedule and without the travel expense.
Simulating a 16G crash is not a trivial task. Just setting up the rig takes significant planning and coordination.
Each crash test smarty (I can’t call them dummies given how advanced they are) carries a couple dozen sensors on board to measure the critical data. Any given test includes up to 112 channels of sensor input, sampling at 20,000 readings per second. The rig also carries nine specialized, high-speed cameras on board. They are capturing 1000 frames per second in HD or better resolution.
Once the test rig is configured the room is cleared to run the actual test.
Nitrogen (much more stable and controllable than compressed air) tanks are pressurized to 200 bar (~2900 psi) to provide power to the system. A piston pushes the rig no more than about 5.5 feet (1.7 meters), hitting a top speed of 44 feet per second.
And, in roughly the blink of an eye, the entire process completes.
The rig collects data for only about 3 seconds per test. But the process to configure and run a test takes much longer. As does analyzing all that data, of course.
The company anticipates testing, on average, once per work day.
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