The research objective of this award is to model the contributions to airliner safety of processes used by aircraft builders, the airline industry and their regulators and to explore their impact on airliner structural design. This will allow an aircraft designer to present to a customer the choice between designing more safety into the airplane versus achieving the same level of safety though maintenance and training procedures. Inspired by a crash of an American Airlines airplane due to extreme rudder commands, the research will also explore a new approach for reducing unexpected failures by simulations of extreme behavior by a pilot. The research thus addresses a critical lack in the current design framework of complex systems by systematically uncovering processes of unexpected and un-modeled failure scenarios and by including operators? extreme behavior into the design and safety assessment.
If successful, the research will provide insight for aircraft builders, airlines, Congress and the President on strategies to improve safety at less cost, resulting in more efficient resource allocation at the national level. This can help decisions on directing resources to safety research, tax incentives to aircraft builders, maintenance and pilot training and regulations and accident investigations. Although the proposed research focuses on aircraft structures, the same frameworks can be applicable to any complex engineering system whose safety depends on a sequence of processes throughout its life cycle. This includes infrastructural systems, whose reliability is directly related to public safety. A Ph.D. student from an international joint Ph.D. degree program will enhance international collaboration, and an undergraduate student will be recruited for research from underrepresented groups. Two graduate and undergraduate courses will closely be integrated with this research. The research results will be widely distributed for maximum impact in a variety of conference and journal venues.