Aircraft Evacuation Slides: Preventing Unnecessary Deployment

When testing a passenger aircraft’s evacuation slide, all of its safety-critical components must be thoroughly verified. Equally important is preventing the slide’s accidental deployment. While missing possible malfunctions in safety-critical components could have dire consequences, accidentally deploying the slide during testing would also be very expensive.

How we solved it.

the challenge

A prominent aerospace evacuation systems manufacturer approached Ideal Aerosmith for the development of a next-generation electronics test box (ETB) for Airbus A380 evacuation slides. The ETB needed not only to be portable, but also as light as possible. In addition, it needed to be powered either by common alkaline batteries or from an AC adapter. Furthermore, it needed to have an easy-to-use operator’s interface, the ability to be operated with a gloved hand, function in a wide range of temperatures, and withstand merciless drops on hard surfaces. Finally, there was one more critical requirement: the evacuation slide must not actually deploy during testing, a mistake that would be very, very expensive to reset.

the solution

Ideal Aerosmith developed a microcontroller-based tester that was approximately one fourth the size of the older generation models. This modern architecture provided advantages not possible with bulkier testers. For instance, its reduced weight and size made it easier to transport around the aircraft, and it took up less space in the toolkit crate. Plus, the tester’s unparalleled measurement accuracy was accompanied by a comprehensive self-test that verified that all of its internal components were functioning properly – before running tests on the evacuation slides themselves.

The ETB featured a menu-driven operation that eliminated operator errors, such as pushing a button in the wrong sequence. The color-coded display made it obvious when tests had been passed, failed or when the operator needed to perform an action. In fact, the tester’s entire operation was so easy that it fit into a six-slide color chart.

the outcome

This unique ETB developed by Ideal Aerosmith succeeded in meeting all of the manufacturer’s many requirements. It is now in use by the customer at their manufacturing plant and deployed around the world to airlines operating the A380 and to MROs that service them.

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