How safe is your plane?

How safe is your plane?

Our Senior Researcher Dr Neil Ashton is in the news again, this time with a feature article in BBC Focus, the UK's best-selling science and technology monthly. Dr Ashton is an expert in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), with a particular focus on turbulence modelling. He has worked on a number of projects with leading companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen and DLR.

According to the article, air travel is more popular than ever, with more than 1.5 million flights passing through the UK each year. However one in three of us are anxious or afraid of flying. Dr Ashton's four page article explores the rigorous tests that every single part of an aircraft has to undergo before taking its first flight.

In a testing facility in Canada, for example, engines are blasted with water at sub-zero temperatures to check they will maintain power in cold environments. Manufacturers also subject planes to 'maximum stress' tests, exposing parts to many times the normal load to ensure they can withstand severe turbulence, and carry out trials to make sure engines can remain working after bird strikes.

To find out more about the safety of air travel, including the results of tests into where it is safest to sit on a plane, read this month's issue of BBC Focus.

You can also read a Q&A with Dr Ashton. and watch his TEDx talk on turbulence.