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Train Crashes Tested
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Simula's Aviation and Automotive Crash Research Expertise Utilized In Passenger Safety Analysis of Railcar Crash Test

Simula Inc. : Thursday, November 18, 1999
This week's dramatic crash test of a commuter railcar in Pueblo, Colorado marked the first time ever in which a rail crash test was performed primarily to address passenger safety issues. The program's sponsor, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and the agency administering the crash test program, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, assembled a team of organizations to perform this full-scale crash event. Simula, Inc., a company with an extensive history of crash safety experience in all modes of transportation, was chosen to lead the investigation of these occupant safety issues.

The crash test of a single commuter railcar that collided head-on into a solid concrete barrier at 35 miles per hour is the first of a series of dynamic tests that will be performed by the FRA-assembled team on passenger railcars to gather more information on their structural crashworthiness and to determine what passenger-protection strategies can be employed to enhance safety.

``Simula's extensive experience in crashworthiness design and testing of airplanes, helicopters, trucks and automobiles will be invaluable in evaluating passenger railcar test data,'' stated Joe Coltman, President of Simula's technology research, development and testing division. Simula will participate with the project team in the test-data evaluation and will assist the FRA and Volpe in writing a technical report of findings and recommendations. This process is expected to take several months to complete.

Among the important objectives established by the FRA and the Volpe Center in conducting this full-scale railcar crash test are obtaining more extensive information about the current level of rail passenger safety and evaluating the safety enhancements that are possible to improve interior crashworthiness for passengers.

Simula has developed a worldwide reputation for its expertise in crash survival of aircraft, automobile and military tactical vehicle accidents. Simula works extensively with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and has ongoing cooperative vehicle research projects with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Army. In addition, Simula operates the International Center for Safety Education at which personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board, FAA and industry are trained in accident reconstruction.

"Past experience has demonstrated the value of conducting full-scale crash tests. Although we have conducted extensive dynamic sled tests of current seat designs for the railroad industry's Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards (PRESS) Task Force, there are many variables that can only be simulated by crashing a full-scale vehicle,'' Coltman said.

Simula's past work includes full-scale crash testing of airliners for the Federal Aviation Administration that helped establish enhanced occupant safety requirements. ``Our expertise in seating system design and accident analysis enabled Simula's engineers to develop occupant safety experiments that explored many of the issues involved with protecting occupants in railway accidents, ''Coltman explained.

Once the crash test program team members complete the evaluation of the crash data that was gathered during this week's test at the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado, preparations will begin for a second passenger train crash test, involving two coupled railcars. That test is scheduled for the Spring of 2000.

Simula, headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, is comprised of four principal operating units that are aligned with its core technologies: research, development and testing; government and defense; commercial transportation seating; and automotive safety systems. Other technical disciplines of the company include advanced parachutes, personal survival equipment, crash sensors and advanced transparent polymer materials. Additional information about Simula can be found at its web site,

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This file last updated: Saturday, 19-Feb-2000 21:01:28 EST
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