- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita is using a new laboratory to test how to safely carry pressurized oxygen bottles on airplanes, with plans to expand research to other airline-safety issues.

The research is being conducted at the new Ballistics and Impact Dynamics Lab for B/E Aerospace in Olathe. It is operated by Wichita State University inside the Kansas Coliseum.

Inside a thick-walled containment building, pressurized bottles are dropped and hit three times with fast-moving bullets. They’re also set on fire, while NIAR engineers and students inside a control tower oversee and capture the test results, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1rAWSq7 ). The testing is designed to simulate the impact of a structural failure on an airplane.

A 25-by-25-foot concrete building on a firing range was designed to capture the bullets and contain the potential failure of the pressurized oxygen bottles.

The ability to carry pressurized oxygen bottles safely on an airliner is crucial because they must be shipped around the world, lab director Paul Jonas said.

In the air, “you don’t want one to come apart like that on an airplane that could take everything out,” Jonas said. The work helps companies design such bottles and other equipment.

The ballistics lab, which took a year to develop and open and cost $300,000, analyzes data from such tests to better understand the dynamics of impact and material performance.

“This lab couples the material and analytical strengths of NIAR with a unique ability to capture data about the impact event and how the material behaves under those conditions,” Jonas said.

The lab next will add the ability to test bird strikes and high-velocity projectiles later this year.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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