Design of passenger doors on commercial airplanes are subject to two drastic scenarios: opening doors in flight must be almost impossible; while opening them automatically and quickly in case of a crash is essential.
System designers at Latecoere have been led by these criteria during their last six years of research, and have now come up with a futuristic electrical door. Several major aircraft accidents in the 70s and 80s meant stricter certification requirements, resulting in conventional mechanical doors becoming more complex and significantly increasing their weight and cost.
The research project focused on evaluating the benefits of performing functions while using electrical technologies instead of mechanical.
“An airline door now weighs 200kg, so on current mechanical doors, the air hostess must use the handle to lift these 200kg,” said Roland Rousset, Aerostructures Engineering Manager at Latecoere. “Mechanical efficiency can pose problems. On the new door, there’s an electric motor that operates lifting it.”
Latecoere claims the work of cabin crew will be greatly facilitated by its new generation (NexGED) door, which works at the push of a button. In case of an emergency evacuation, they can prepare safety slides with the aid of an external video screen, capable of working night and day.
"Normally there’s a porthole to help cabin crew to check that the escape route is free, but it’s quite difficult, especially if the plane has damaged landing gear, the latitude of the plane is a bit complicated, or if it’s dark,” says François Boucher, Latecoere Engineer. “With the special screen, we see the area where the slide will fall. If they need to make an emergency opening, this allows cabin crew to ensure the escape route is clear, and there’s no danger for passengers who will jump on the slide," he adds.