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FAA seeks vendor for wide-body cabin evacuation simulator

The US FAA is searching for vendors qualified to build a wide-body aircraft cabin simulator for use in its aircraft cabin evacuation facility (ACEF) in Oklahoma City.

The agency explains that the simulator configuration must be flexible enough to allow for single-aisle as well as double-deck evacuations, simulating aircraft as large as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380.

The simulator will be used at the FAA's civil aerospace medical institute (CAMI), a division that supports the agency's regulatory and airworthiness functions with research and testing on seating density, exit size and location, passenger flow rates through exits and flight attendant behavior. The existing simulator, which the agency plans to retire in 2012, is not large enough to simulate wide-body and dual-deck aircraft.

In addition to performing its own research into aircraft evacuations, the FAA also requires manufacturers of new passenger aircraft to demonstrate or prove otherwise that all passengers can evacuate an aircraft to the ground in 90 seconds by way of evacuation slides on no more than half of the exits.

The FAA during its evacuation test requires that passengers be "naïve" as to the nature of the emergency beforehand. The simulated tests feature night conditions with aircraft emergency lighting serving as the only illumination after the emergency drill begins.

The pre-solicitation notice, issued 3 February, requires that the cabin attaches to the hydraulic base structure already in place. The hydraulic structure allows the cabin simulator to pitch and yaw to plus or minus 30 degrees and plus or minus 20 degrees, respectively, simulating the aircraft coming to rest unevenly. The vendor must refurbish the base as part of the contract.

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