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Helping the world find answers

Impact shock testing and research at UDRI has led to the design of more robust "black boxes"

“If it were not for the research by scientists at the University of Dayton Research Institute, we may never have known why ...”

In a commentary published March 29 in the Dayton Daily News, business editor Rich Gillette discussed UDRI’s role in helping investigators find answers in the tragic crash of a Germanwings aircraft in the French Alps earlier that week.

Since 1990, Kevin Poormon and members of the Impact Physics group in Aerospace Mechanics have performed a variety of testing on cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders to help manufacturers produce “black boxes” that are robust enough to withstand the kind of devastating impact that occurs in a crash. Researchers test for impact, crush, chemical penetration and deep-sea pressure resistance, among other tests. Shooting the boxes out of a 40-foot cannon at 350 miles per hour into a short-stop barrier has helped manufacturers make recorders that are significantly better at withstanding shock than they were even a decade ago, Kevin said.

Ultimately, it was the flight data recorder from the downed Germanwings flight that yielded answers as to the aircraft’s fate, which have already spurred policy changes to help improve flight safety.

This is just one example of research that goes on at UDRI and that helps the world find answers. Or as Mr. Gillette said in closing his commentary:

“This is the kind of research that goes on at UD and other universities here that ... demonstrates how higher education research can help improve product development for the business community.”

March 29, 2015

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