Airliner evacuation slides remain compliant with Trelleborg's coated fabrics

Technology used within the production of aeroplanes in the last 50-plus years, has become more sophisticated and innovative as a result of stricter legislation; refined over the years following analysis of transportation accidents, to ensure the safest aeroplanes.

Johan Frithiof, General Manager within Trelleborg's engineered fabrics operation, commented: "In the 1960's airliner evacuation slides had to be deployed in 25 seconds in non-extreme weather. Now, the FAA states that slides must deploy in just six seconds, in heat ranging from -65 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and winds of up to 25 knots (28.7mph)."

The FAA's Technical Standard Order (TSO) C69 has seen a number of additions, with its original issue on 15th August 1961. TSO-C69a was then issued on the 3rd June 1983 to include radiant heat testing in case of a fire, increased material flammability and revised strength requirements of the slide's material.

The evacuation rate was increased from 30 to 60 evacuees per minute and inflation time decreased from 25 to 10 seconds. Side guards and self illuminated slides were required as well as deployment capabilities in 25 knot winds.

On the 17th August, 1988, TSO-C69b was launched which required off-wing slide ramp floor fabric to be puncture proof. Inflation times were decreased from 10 seconds to 6 seconds. An additional wing-to-ground slide now requires the device to automatically erect from 15 to 10 seconds after actuation of the inflation control.

Finally, on the 18th August, 1999, the latest guidelines were introduced under TSO-C69c, increasing the evacuation rate from 60 to 70 passengers per minute, per lane. Additionally a beam strength test was needed to accommodate three evacuees sliding down bunched together, as well as testing in the dark with naive subjects to asses lighting system efficiencies. In addition, radiant heat testing requires pressure-holding materials to meet the 90 second minimum-time-to-failure requirement and the 180 second average-time-to-failure.

Frithiof continued: "Our expert teams of chemists and engineers have continually refined the characteristics of our coated fabrics to ensure consistent high performance and compliancy, by withstanding much higher temperatures and harsher weather, while meeting weight reduction needs and making downstream process improvements.

"We put all of our fabrics through physical, chemical and textile tests to ensure that elements such as tear strength, flame resistance and aging, are all carefully considered and measured to ensure compliant solutions every time.

Trelleborg AB

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