UK-based BRE has completed its initial aircraft cabin environment (ACE) tests and hopes to gain further funding to widen the scope of the project next year (Flight International, 13-19 May).

The £500,000 ($810,000) ACE rig - an Airbus A300 forward fuselage section located in Watford, UK - has been used for 18 simulated flights. Crew and passenger reactions to varying levels of humidity, temperature and noise in the cabin and flightdeck were measured.

During the tests, BRE varied the temperature in the cabin between 21°C (70°F) and 27°C, and the humidity between 10% and 30%. Cooling water piped around the windows and sidewalls helped recreate actual flight conditions, with the cabin air supply using a flight-representative 40% recirculated air.

The cabin noise measured in flying A300s is replicated by 35 acoustic shakers connected to the fuselage frames. BRE director John Seller says 21 flightcrew and about 100 cabin crew have taken part in the tests, which usually have about 25 volunteer passengers. "Initial crew feedback is that workload is a little light, so for subsequent tests we would like to introduce more in-flight problems," he adds. The crew are fitted with electrocardiograms to monitor their response to activity and environment.

Seller would also like to include a more realistic flightdeck on the A300. The current set-up features three large cockpit screens powered by a PC-based flight simulator.

Analysis of the current tests will be completed by April next year, says Seller, and then he wants to expand the tests. "We'd like to increase the temperature and humidity range and introduce VOCs [volatile organic compounds], and odours," he says.

More realistic audio sequences replicating flap and landing gear deployment could also be included, says Seller. "One partner even wants to introduce motion - but that would be a confounding variable."

BRE's partners in the ACE rig research include Oldenburg University in Germany and the University of Vienna, Austria.

Source: Flight International