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Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID) Aircraft

DFRC Movie # Movie Date Movie Description
EM-0004-01 December 1984 CID Aircraft crash landing
EM-0004-02 December 1984 Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID) tail camera video
EM-0004-03 December 1984 Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID) montage

In 1984 NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) teamed-up in a unique flight experiment called the Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID), to test the impact of a Boeing 720 aircraft using standard fuel
with an additive designed to suppress fire. The additive FM-9, a high molecular-weight long chain polymer, when blended with
Jet-A fuel had demonstrated the capability to inhibit ignition and flame propagation of the released fuel in simulated impact tests.

On the morning of December 1, 1984, a remotely controlled Boeing 720 transport took off from Edwards Air Force Base
(Edwards, California), made a left-hand departure and climbed to an altitude of 2300 feet. It then began a descent-to-landing
to a specially prepared runway on the east side of Rogers Dry Lake. Final approach was along the roughly 3.8-degree
glide slope. The landing gear was left retracted. Passing the decision height of 150 feet above ground level (AGL), the aircraft
was slightly to the right of the desired path. Just above that decision point at which the pilot was to execute a "go-around," there appeared to be enough altitude to maneuver back to the centerline of the runway. Data acquisition systems had been activated, and the aircraft was committed to impact. It contacted the ground, left wing low. The fire and smoke took over an hour to extinguish.

This flight, called the Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID), was the culmination of more than a year of preparation in a joint research project by NASA and the FAA to test the effectiveness of anti-misting kerosene (AMK) in a so-called survivable impact. Added to typical Jet A fuel, the AMK was designed to suppress the fireball that can result from an impact in which the airstream causes spilled fuel to vaporize into a mist.

The plane was also instrumented for a variety of other impact-survivability experiments, including new seat designs, flight data recorders, galley and stowage-bin attachments, cabin fire-proof materials, and burn-resistant windows. Crash forces were measured, and a full complement of instrumented crash test dummies was carried on the flight.

The aircraft was remotely flown by NASA research pilot Fitzhugh (Fitz) Fulton from the NASA Dryden Remotely Controlled
Vehicle Facility. Previously, the Boeing 720 had been flown on 14 practice flights with safety pilots onboard. During the 14
flights, there were 16 hours and 22 minutes of remotely piloted vehicle control, including 10 remotely piloted takeoffs,
69 remotely piloted vehicle controlled approaches, and 13 remotely piloted vehicle landings on abort runway.

It was planned that the aircraft would land wings-level and exactly on the centerline during the CID, thus allowing the fuselage
to remain intact as the wings were sliced open by eight posts cemented into the runway. The Boeing 720 landed askew and
caused a cabin fire when burning fuel was able to enter the fuselage.

It was not exactly the impact that was hoped for, but research from the CID program yielded new data on impact survivability which helped establish new FAA rules regarding fire prevention and retardant materials. Although proponents argued that AMK prevented a hotter, more catastrophic fire during the CID, FAA requirements for the additive were put on the back burner.

Last Modified: July 28, 2008
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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