Fire and Cabin Safety Research Group
Historically, civil aviation authorities world-wide conducted research in transport category airplane cabin safety on a generally individual basis, without the benefit of an administrative coordinating ‘tool’. However, the global nature of modern civil aviation, with its multilateral commitments, trends toward regulatory harmonization, and budgetary constraints, dictated the need for a mechanism to foster greater and broader association, cooperation, and coordination of cabin safety research. In response, the civil aviation authorities of North America [US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)], and European [Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA)] formed the Cabin Safety Research Technical Group (CSRTG) in the early 1990s to ‘bring together’ their respective cabin safety research efforts. As time progressed, other authorities were invited into the group. In the spring of 2017, the name and focus of the group was changed to include all of aircraft fire safety. The new FCSRG is comprised of a number of the world’s major aviation authorities (ref. list below).
The FCSRG is a core research coordinating group, consisting of members from each of the participating authorities, who represent both the research and regulatory elements of each organization. The FCSRG is responsible for the identification, prioritization, planning, and general direction of cabin and fire safety research projects, as well as for the provision of regular briefings to authorities’ management on the progress and findings of the various research projects. However, FCSRG is not responsible for day-to-day research conduct.
The goal of the FCSRG is to enhance the effectiveness and timeliness of cabin and fire safety research by establishing an international framework that allows for more systematic treatment of needed research, by integrating the pertinent activities of the participating authorities. The prime objective is to support safety-related rulemaking, although some research is conducted to identify safety issues, set priorities and develop safety systems.
Other participants, such as members of external research organizations or other government agencies, may be invited to participate in some of the FCSRG work when needed to address specific issues/activities. In addition, input relative to research needs and priorities is sought and received from pertinent authority-associated working groups and advisory committees, including the Aviation Regulatory Advisory Committee (ARAC), the Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), and recognized public- and industry-associated groups.
The FCSRG meets regularly, approximately 2-3 times a year in combination with the International Aircraft Materials Fire Test Working Group, and/or the International Aircraft Systems Fire Protection Working Group, and as otherwise needed to ensure the successful achievement of its objectives and the proper conduct and progress of the research efforts.
To enhance and inform the aviation industry of research developments in the cabin and fire safety fields, the FCSRG holds a conference every three years and invites National Airworthiness Authorities, research organizations and private companies to present their research activities. A list of conference proceedings can be found at the end of this document.
Cabin and Fire Safety
Cabin and Fire Safety can be classified into two distinct, but largely interrelated, categories: in-flight safety and post-crash survival. The primary focus of cabin and fire safety is the safety and survivability of airplane occupants.
Research activities aimed toward in-flight safety primarily address fire hazards, but also include several important, but less dominant, activities such as protection against turbulence, decompression, and human factors concerns related to occupants, that concentrate on general design practices (e.g. no sharp edges or tripping hazards).
Research activities aimed toward post-crash survival include crash (impact) protection, emergency evacuation, water landings, and post-evacuation survival, especially in harsh environments (e.g., fire, remote areas, water).
In general, the FCSRG focuses on safety-related issues that can be classified as acute and occurring on a specific flight. Chronic issues such as air quality or general product safety, that might otherwise be termed 'cabin safety,' are typically not under the FCSRG umbrella.
In-flight safety consists of protection against the effects of 1) fire, 2) turbulence, and 3) decompression, as well as the means to address 4) medical emergencies.
Item 1) is primarily a function of design practice, flammability of materials, fuel systems and cargo, emergency equipment and procedural considerations (e.g., no smoking in lavatories).
Item 2) is mainly an occupant protection issue, although all areas of the cabin must be considered, not just those approved for occupancy during takeoff and landing. This relates to both design and operating procedures.
Item 3) essentially involves oxygen systems and the capability of airplane structures to tolerate pressure differentials without failures that could cause injury.
Item 4) relates to medical equipment, standards and training procedures.
Post-crash survival consists of: 1) protection from the crash forces, 2) egress after the crash event, and 3) survival in the post-crash environment.
Item 1) includes occupant injury protection and human tolerance, structural integrity of airplane features (e.g. seats, galleys, closets, overhead stowage compartments, etc.) and, ultimately, airframe capability.
Item 2) can be divided into: a) facilitating rapid egress, and b) extending the time available for egress. Included in a) are airplane cabin layout, exit performance, escape assist means performance, cabin crew training, passenger briefings, and many related operational procedures. Included in b) are flammability of materials, fire suppression systems, burn-through protection, protection of escape systems from fire, and airplane flotation time.
Item 3) includes emergency equipment and procedures.
United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)
United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
National Civil Aviation Agency - Brazil (ANAC)
Civil Aviation Safety Authority Australia (CASA)
Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS)
Initial program information can be found in report DOT/FAA/AR-95/14 "Proposed Cabin Safety Research Program (Transport Category Airplanes)", October 1995
Updated information regarding program activities is available through the various Conference proceedings (updated tri-annually) refer to list (with web links) below