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These Gifs Of Crash Test Dummies In An Airplane Are Here To Remind You It Could Be Worse

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Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

clockMar 27 2017, 19:56 UTC

Aren’t we all crash test dummies in a section of airplane fuselage? NASA

There's a lot of crazy things going on in the world right now, so we're here to remind you, it could be worse. You could be these crash test dummies being dropped to their doom.

These gifs come from NASA footage of a crash test at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia earlier this month. Ten crash test dummies were seated in a section of airplane fuselage and then dropped from a height of 4.3 meters (14 feet), impacting the ground at 9.1 meters (30 feet) per second.

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Crash

This was a joint test between NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The goal? To see how an airplane’s structure would hold up in an accident.

"We're working with the FAA to update the requirements for the testing of next generation airframe concepts – especially those that may include composite materials," said Martin Annett, NASA crash test engineer, in a statement.

Bang

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Each of the dummies – six supplied by NASA and four by the FAA – was selected to represent a cross section of the population. Eight of them represented an average man’s height and mass. One was in the heaviest and tallest 5 percent of the male population, and another represented the smallest and lightest 5 percent of the female population.

Packed full of instruments, engineers will use the test to see how the dummies coped with the stresses of impacting the ground. There was baggage in the hold, too, to see how it interacts with the bottom of the fuselage.

Wallop

As you can see in the gifs, the floor crumpled following the impact. One of the dummies lost its head rest, while one in the middle was almost thrown from its seat. The ones on the side though seemed to do okay, though. Annett said that there would have been a “low likelihood” of severe injury.

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The seats also remained in place for the most part, meaning any real passengers in such a situation might emerge unscathed, able to then evacuate the plane.

What a video

Interestingly, the outside of the tube was painted with black and white speckles to enable cameras to track exactly how it deformed. Known as photogrammetry, cameras tracked the dots at 500 frames a second.

And, you know, it looked kind of cool too. Even if it does serve as a reminder of the car crash we’re rapidly heading towards in the real world.

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Check out the full video below.


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