Volpe Center Highlights
Promote public health and safety by working toward the elimination of transportation-related deaths, injuries, and property damage.
Workshop on Alternative Fuel Safety in Transit Facilities
Many U.S. transit operators are introducing buses that use alternative fuel in an effort to comply with federal, state, and local energy and air pollution requirements. The Volpe Center's Safety and Security Systems Division is providing support to FTA's Clean Air Program, which addresses the operational and facility safety issues associated with transit agencies converting to alternative fuel use in their bus operations. As part of this support, a workshop was held at FTA headquarters, to obtain input from industry on the issues involved. Fuels being used in trial transit programs include compressed and liquefied natural gas, propane, methanol, and ethanol fuels. These fuels possess hazards that are both new to the transit agencies, and different from those of conventional fuels. The two day workshop, organized and facilitated by Mr. William T. Hathaway, of the Center's Safety and Security Systems Division, was attended by 40 representatives from FTA, RSPA, the transit industry, natural gas and propane fuel industries, equipment manufacturers, research companies, consultants, and the National Fire Protection Agency. In the two day session, the attendees discussed the issues, and reviewed a draft facility safety design guideline prepared by the Volpe Center. A new draft of the guideline will be prepared, based on the discussions at the workshop and new submissions from the attendees. After agreement is obtained on the new draft guideline, a national conference on alternative fuel use in transit is planned.
Railway Systems Rehabilitation (DOD)
The Center recently completed the railroad rehabilitation project at the Military Ocean Terminal, in Bayonne, NJ (MOTBY). A team comprised of Mr. Peter Sheehan, of the Infrastructure Systems and Technology Division, and Ms. Mary Crowe, of the Acquisition Division, managed the assessment, design, construction, and acceptance phases of this project beginning in July 1990. The $9.7 million rehabilitation project was performed for the U.S. Army Military Traffic Management Command. The two year construction contract was awarded by the Volpe Center through the Small Business Administration's 8(a) minority contractor set-aside program to the Metroplex Corporation of North Charleston, SC. Located on New York Harbor, the terminal is the major east coast military outloading facility supporting the new Army Strategic Mobility Plan.
Release of Safety Performance Analysis System (FAA)
The Center-developed Safety Performance and Analysis System (SPAS) is being developed to assist the FAA in identifying aviation certificate holders posing potential safety risks, and to support the planning of aviation surveillance program work elements. The system will be utilized specifically to address Flight Standards risk assessment objectives. Recently, via a national news conference, the release and fielding of SPAS was announced. Among the participants in the news conference were FAA Administrator David Hinson, Associate Administrator Anthony Broderick, and Director of Flight Standards Thomas Accardi. In addition, Ms. Ann DiMare, of the Center's Aviation Safety Division, recently led the development of a script used in the preparation of a video to inform, motivate, and promote the SPAS I software throughout the FAA.
Biomechanics Research for Vehicle Crashworthiness (NHTSA)
The Volpe Center has been supporting the NHTSA's Office of Crashworthiness Research in the area of biomechanics for more than ten years. In particular, Mr. Frank DiMasi, of the Center's Vehicle Crashworthiness Division, has developed a detailed finite element model of the human head and has exercised this model in simulated crash scenarios. His studies include investigation of the effect of using padding on the A-pillar to reduce head injuries. These studies provided important justification for NHTSA's rulemaking on methods of reducing head injuries. Recently, Secretary Pentilde;a announced a new safety rule that will require that cars and light trucks provide better head protection for occupants. The rule will be phased in over five years, starting with model year 1999. The head protection requirement is expected to save up to 1,200 lives, prevent up to 975 serious head injuries and provide an estimated annual economic benefit of as much as $900 million annually. This head-injury rulemaking procedure began in February, 1993.
Hazardous Materials Training Modules
The Volpe Center has just finished a complete revision of the first six of a series of training modules on hazardous materials regulations. The revision of the series makes them conform with current hazardous materials regulations. These modules, which were developed and revised in support of RSPA's Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, include instructor manuals, student manuals, graphics masters, and audio narration. Eight modules were completed during earlier phases of this effort. The six modules that were revised covered the following topics: Module 1--The Hazardous Materials Table, Module 2--Shipping Papers, Module 3--Packaging, Module 4--Marking & Labeling, Module 5--Placarding, and Module 6--Carrier Requirements (Highway). In addition, "How to Use the Hazardous Materials Regulation," a supplement to the modules, was also revised. The new revision of the first six modules was prepared for use and distribution on CD-ROMs for IBM PCs and compatibles (certain files were also distributed for use on the Macintosh). All previous versions and modules had been prepared for use and distribution in hard-copy form. For the new revision, a two CD-ROM set was issued.
Training Related to Structural Integrity of Aging Airframes (FAA)
To help ensure that aviation safety inspectors adequately perform their job responsibilities of certification, audit/evaluation, and surveillance of aircraft manufacturing and maintenance facilities, the Volpe Center has played a principal role in the development of the FAA Training Academy course: "Nondestructive Inspection for Aviation Safety Inspectors (NDI for ASIs)." The course is sponsored by the FAA Aircraft Certification Service and supported by the FAA Flight Standards Services. At the request of Alfred L. Broz, FAA National Resource Specialist in Nondestructive Evaluation, Ms. Stephanie H. Markos, of the Center's Accident Prevention Division, recently participated in a meeting with FAA Training Design Panel members and instructors in Oklahoma City, OK to discuss course revisions in content, structure, and presentation. As a result of the first course offering this past February, Ms. Markos recommended extensive revisions to provide an interactive curriculum for students and instructors, rather than technical lecture presentation. At FAA Headquarter's request, Ms. Markos attended the recent course offering at the FAA Academy, September 12-20, to evaluate the effectiveness of specific course revisions.