Engineer Greg Dean checks dummies before a fuselage drop test at NASA Langley. (NASA Langley/Kathy Barnstorff)

Ten crash test dummies buckled into seats in a cut-out section of a regional jet fuselage will soon help NASA and the FAA develop new crashworthiness guidelines for future airplane designs. It is part of the FAA's efforts to address how to better assess the airworthiness of new transport planes that contain nonmetallic components. The test also included baggage in the cargo hold to see how the luggage interacts with the subfloor separating it from the dummies.

Engineers dropped the passenger cabin onto two feet of dirt. High-speed video cameras recorded onboard and around the perimeter of the test article to capture the crash, and how the fuselage tube and its occupants responded. NASA researchers will take the data from the cameras and instruments, analyze it, and share the results with the FAA.