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1 Copyright 2010 by ASME

Proceedings of the ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
IMECE2010
November 12-18, 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
IMECE2010-38839
STATIC COMFORT ASSESSMENTS FOR EJECTION SEAT CUSHIONS IN THREE
DIFFERENT RAIL ANGLES





ABSTRACT

Aircrew members sit on ejection seats for a long period of time
on operational missions. It is paramount for them to be as
comfortable as possible within the constraints of this seat
system to maximize their operational performance. Several
health effects like numbness, pressure sore, low back pain, and
vein thrombosis have been associated with protracted sitting.
The cushion, and of late the installation rail angle are the only
components of the ejection seat system that can be modified to
reduce these adverse effects. This comprehensive static comfort
assessment for ejection seats provides comparison between a
variety of operational and prototype cushions (three in all:
baseline cushion, honeycomb and air-cushion) and different
installation rail angles (14, 18, and 22) with 18 nominally
used as the starting point. Three operational cockpit
environment mockups with adjustable rail angle were built. Ten
volunteer subjects, six females and 4 males, ages 19 to 35,
participated in the comfort assessment. The volunteers fit
within the JPATS cases 1-7 range of anthropometry, and each of
them tested all cushions in all three installation rail angles. The
volunteer clothing was similar the fighter pilot clothing
ensemble (including harness). Each comfort assessment test
lasted for six-hours, during which the subjects could not leave
the seat and movement activities in the seat system were
reduced as much as possible to reflect flight conditions. The
subjective comfort survey and objective data such as seat
pressure, blood pressure, and oxygen blood flow were gathered
during the sitting period. The test results indicated that for
objective methods, rail angle 22 persistently has a lowest
seated pressure, while 18 has the highest pressure. An air-
cushion has and maintains the lowest seated pressure, while a
honeycomb cushion has the highest for all rail angles. When it
comes to subjective comfort rating, the baseline cushion has the
highest comfort rating, while the air-cushion has the lowest for
all rail angles. The results for blood pressure and pulse rates
are inconclusive. However, the oxygen blood flow (basal
Sp02) favors the baseline cushion with the highest oxygen flow
over the period of the testing, somewhat similar to the comfort
rating.
INTRODUCTION

J et fighter missions have been known to last extended period of
time (1). The need for a comfortable and safe seat has become
paramount (2). Unfortunately, despite enormous amount of
research performed in the field of comfort, there is no
universally accepted definition of comfort (3). For the purpose
of this paper, seat comfort is defined as a system that provides
adequate body posture and support without physiological
pressure points while maintaining overall occupant well being
or the ability of a seat to optimally meet the seating needs of an
occupant.
Several methods, both objective and subjective of varying
approaches, have been used to assess or predict seat comfort.
These approaches of research methods include vibration,
pressure, ergonomics, simulation and modeling, artificial
intelligence, crash and safety, mechanical research, medical,
thermal comfort and use of questionnaires (4).
Ejection seat system is not optimized for occupant comfort but
rather more for safety, so little can be changed without
redesigning the whole seat system (5). Cockpit space
restrictions associated with most ejection seat equipped aircraft
severely restrict the seat occupants ability to reposition during
flight. Ejection seat dimensions and contours are fixed, causing
Akindeji Ojetola
Landon Onyebueke
Department of Mechanical and
Manufacturing
Tennessee State University
Nashville, TN 37209 USA
Edward Winkler

The Boeing Company
St. Louis, MO 63166
USA
2 Copyright 2010 by ASME
accommodation problems for large and small occupants (6).
Several studies have been performed on ejection seat cushions
(7, 8, 9, and 10). However, none has been done with regard to
changes in installation rail installation angle. Hence, the
purpose of this study.

DESIGN OF EXPERIMENT

COCKPIT SIMULATOR
Three simple cockpit mockup geometries (Figure 1) were
supplied by Boeing and built with plywood. The Advanced
Concept Ejection Seats, ACES II (Figure 1) are installed in the
mockups based on dimension and instruction supplied by
Boeing and Goodrich Interiors. The seat pan are inclined at 4
from the horizontal and height adjustable to ensure each subject
can achieve flight eye position. Also, the pedal is adjustable to
ensure all participants can be in the cockpit operation mode.
The installation rail angles are nominally set to 18 and
adjustable to 14, and 22 as shown in Figure 2 below.


Figure 1: Sample Cockpit Simulator


Figure 2: Installation rail angles

SUBJ ECTS

The evaluation procedure was approved by the Tennessee State
University (TSU) Institutional Review Board and all subjects
consented to the study. The participants pool is from TSU
students, all are civilians. The subjects are advised not to drink
excessive fluids before the test. Subjects put on flight suit or
other garments that are similar to that used in the aircraft
environment (lightweight cotton shirt and pants/sweatpants).
Subjects put on the supplied torso harness. Seat height is
adjusted to achieve flight eye position for each subject (Figure
1). The torso harness are connected to fittings corresponding to
the ejection seat fittings, inertia reel lock/unlock lever in the
unlocked position (Figure 3). For each subject, the rudder pedal
simulator is adjusted to simulate proper rudder position.


Figure 3: Cushion Evaluation Test

The volunteers fit within the J PATS cases 1-7 range of
anthropometry (Figures 4 and 5 below), and each of them tested
all cushions in all three installation rail angles.

Gender Female Male All
Age 20.83 23 21.7
Height(in) 65.4 69.97 67.23
Weight(lbs) 213.23 195.04 205.95
EyeHeightSitting,EHS (in) 30.11 30.85 30.41
ButtockKneeLength,BKL(in) 25.29 25.33 25.31
KneeHeightSitting,KHS(in) 20.17 21.9 20.86
ComboLeg (BKL+KHS) 45.46 47.23 46.17
Figure 4: Participant Average Data


Figure 5: Participant/JPATS Comparison Chart
3 Copyright 2010 by ASME
The following anthropometric measurements were taken
(Height, Weight, Knee Crease/Upper Calf Circumference, Bulk
of Calf Circumference Start-of-Day, Ankle Circumference, and
Median Calf Circumference) and a pretest information form
was filled out. Subjects are instructed to have Five minutes
moderate-paced walk prior to the test.
3 types of operational and prototype cushions namely, Baseline
cushion, Honeycomb Cushion and Active-Air Cushion are used
for the experiments (See Figure 6). Each of the participants sat
on each cushion in the cockpits mockup for six hours at each
installation rail angles 14, 18, and 22 respectively.


(a) Cushion 1 Baseline Cushion


(b) Cushion 2 Honeycomb Cushion


(c) Cushion 3 Active- Air Cushion

Figure 6: Evaluated ejection seat cushions

PRESSURE MEASUREMENT

Pressure and contact area measurements of the buttocks and
back regions were obtained using Tekscans Body Pressure
Measurement System (BPMS). The system consists of 2
pressure mats (5315 model) having sensing area of 19.2in x
16.8in and 2016 sensing elements, data acquisition, display and
analysis software. The mats are thin, flexible and enclosed in
nylon-like protective clothing. The mats were placed on top of
the seat and back cushions. Subject sits for a 6-minute settling
period and pressure measurement is taken for five minutes for
each cushion (Figure 6) being evaluated, and removed
afterward.

OXYGEN SATURATION, BLOOD PRESURE, AND PULSE
RATE MEASUREMENT

The Saturation of Peripheral Oxygen, SPO2, blood pressure
and pulse rate are measured using NONIN Avant 2120, a
noninvasive blood pressure monitor and digital pulse oximeter.
It has a data acquisition and analysis software.
Data collection begins by subject completing initial comfort
survey. Subject remains in an operational position for the
majority of the evaluation period (Figure 3). A laptop or
display was located on the instrument panel, and mouse pad
mounted to the right side of seat to allow the subject to retain
an operational/active position.
Every 30 minutes: blood pressure and oxygen blood flow
measurements are taken and subject is allowed to move to the
degree possible given the constraints of the cockpit simulator
thereafter.

SUBJ ECTIVE SURVEY

The subject completes the first survey within the first five
minutes of sitting in the mockup, and every hour after until the
end of the 6 hour period. The questionnaire is a 5-point scale
type for the subject to rate each part of the body based on
comfort/discomfort experienced. Subject is removed from the
seat at the end of 6 hours. Subject takes off test garments and
torso harness and End-of-Evaluation calf circumference is
taken. Subject completes End-of-Evaluation comfort survey.
Each subject considered in the analysis for successful
evaluation completes nine test sessions of 6 hour period 3
installation rail angles (14, 18, and 22) as shown in Figure 2
for the 3 different cushions (Figure 6 ) being evaluated.
RESULTS

PRESSURE MEASURENT

The test results indicated that for objective methods, rail angle
22 persistently has a lowest seated pressure, while 18 has the
highest pressure. An air-cushion has and maintains the lowest
seated pressure, while a honeycomb cushion has the highest for
all rail angles.
4 Copyright 2010 by ASME
The average seated pressure ranges from 0.448 0.857psi


Figure 7: Seat Pressure Map with Seat Contact Pressure





Figure 8: Average Seat Pressure Results By angle by
cushion




0.10 0.05 0.00 -0.05 -0.10
99.99
99
90
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Residual
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0.030 0.015 0.000 -0.015 -0.030 -0.045 -0.060 -0.075
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30
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Residual
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Normal Probability Plot Versus Fits
Histogram
Residual Plots for 14deg, 18deg, 22deg


22deg 18deg 14deg
0.75
0.70
0.65
0.60
0.55
D
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t
a
Boxplot of 14deg, 18deg, 22deg


22deg 18deg 14deg
0.75
0.70
0.65
0.60
0.55
D
a
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a
Individual Value Plot of 14deg, 18deg, 22deg


Figure 9: Residual Plots, Box plot and Individual value
plots of Average Seat Pressure.




0.000
0.200
0.400
0.600
0.800
Cushion1 Cushion2 Cushion3
AverageSeatPressureMale(ASP)inPSI
14deg
18deg
22deg
0.000
0.200
0.400
0.600
0.800
Cushion1 Cushion2 Cushion3
AverageSeatPressureFemale(ASP)inPSI
14deg
18deg
22deg
0.000
0.200
0.400
0.600
0.800
Cushion1 Cushion2 Cushion3
AverageSeatPressureAll(ASP)inPSI
14deg
18deg
22deg
5 Copyright 2010 by ASME
OXYGEN SATURATION, BLOOD PRESURE, AND PULSE
RATE MEASUREMENT

The results for pulse rate and blood pressure are inconclusive,
hence will not be discussed in this paper. Their dependence on
many other parameters that can not be controlled under the test
condition make them irrelevant for now.
On the other hand, the oxygen (basal Sp02) favors the baseline
cushion (cushion 1) with the highest oxygen flow over the
period of the testing, while air-cushion (cushion 3) polls lowest
for all installation rail angles.

Figure 10: Oxygen Saturation Results.

SEAT COMFORT SURVEY RESULT

Comfort
Group
Questionnaires
Number RatingScale
Thighandcalf 6,7,8,9,21,22
1=uncomfortable,
5=Comfortable
Buttock
2,3,4,11,12,13,
14,24
1=uncomfortable,
5=Comfortable
Back
5,15,16,17,18,
19,20
1=uncomfortable,
5=Comfortable
Neck 1
1=uncomfortable,
5=Comfortable
Overall
Comfort 10
1=uncomfortable,
5=Comfortable
Cushion hard
Spot 23
1=Alot,
5=None
Seat
Installation 25
1=Reclined,
5=MoreUpright
Move around
inSeat 26
1=Veryoften,
5=None

Figure 11: Seat comfort survey result rank.

Ranked Comforts Charts is a technique we are using to present
the comfort response from the questionnaire by the participant
(Figure 11). The questionnaires questions are grouped by the
targeted area of the body being evaluated by comfort (See
Figure 12)

Figure 12: Seat comfort survey result rank pie chart.

The mean for all responses for each question are ranked and
summed. The higher the ranked value, the higher the perceived
comfort rating of the participants
For the first hour of survey, air-cushion seems to have higher
comfort rating in line with pressure distribution, but after the
first hour, it is similar to the result of oxygen saturation
cushion 1 has higher comfort rating, cushion 3 has lowest rating
(Figure 13)


Figure 13: Overall comfort Survey Result.

The calculated comfort for each ranked section of the
questionnaire is examined with the single overall comfort
perceived by the participants (Figure 14). The results show that
in the overall comfort perceptions, each participant is in sync
with the perception of targeted body group.
88
90
92
94
96
98
100
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6
B
a
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S
p
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(
%
)
Time(hr)
BasalSpO2
Cushion1 Cushion2 Cushion3
22.13
24%
28.22
30%
26.48
28%
13.60
14%
3.49
4%
QuestionnaireRankPie
Thigh&Calf
Buttock
Back
Others
Overall_Comfort
0
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R
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Time(hr)
OverallComfortRating
Cushion1 Cushion2 Cushion3
6 Copyright 2010 by ASME


Figure 13: Overall comfort comparison with target body
area
CONCLUSION

The average seated pressure ranges from 0.448 0.857psi. This
was expected since 3 cushions are selected based on earlier 3-
hour test to pick the best 2 against the air-cushion. Rail angle
22 persistently has a lowest seated pressure, while 18 has the
highest. The Active-Air Cushion maintains the lowest seated
pressure, while honeycomb cushion has the highest. When it
comes to comfort rating, Baseline cushion has the highest
comfort rating, while the Air-cushion has the lowest. The low
comfort rating for the air cushion could be attributed to the fact
that the sound and movement in the cushion was quite
pronounced in a quiet and static environment. Some of the
participants explained that the above reason was a major factor
in their rating of the air cushion. It is likely that if the
experiment is performed in a dynamic environment, the
subjective rating might agree with the objective result.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research work was sponsored by the Boeing Company.
Cockpit mockup drawings are supplied by the Boeing
Company. Three Inert ACES II ejection seats and six seat
cushions and back pads are supplied by Goodrich Interiors.
Torso Harnesses are supplied by both Goodrich and Boeing.
REFERENCES

[1] Parakkat, J ., Pellettiere, J ., Reynolds, D., Sasidharan, M.,
El-Zoghbi, M., Quantitative Methods for Determining U.S.
Air Force Crew Cushion Comfort, Paper #2006-01-2339,
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), 2006.
[2] Lueder, R. K., Seat Comfort: A Review of the Construct in
the Office Environment, Human Factors: The Journal of the
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Volume 25, Number
6, December 1983, pp. 701-711(11)
[3] Reed, M. P., Schneider, L. W., and Ricci, L. L., Survey of
Auto Seat Design Recommendations for Improved Comfort,
Technical Report No. UMRTI-94-6, University of Michigan.
[4] Fail, T, C., Delbressine, F, and Rauterberg, M., Vehicle
Seat Design: State of the Art and Recent Development
Proceedings World Engineering Congress 2007 (pp. 51-61),
Penang, Malaysia.
[5] Pellettiere, J , and Gallagher, H. L., Time Based Subjective
Evaluations of Seated Cushion Comfort AIR FORCE
RESEARCH
[6] Famuyiwa, O. O., 2000, Development of Accommodation
Analysis and Rapid Virtual Prototyping Tool for Crew Station
Design, Masters thesis, Tennessee State University, Nashville,
TN.
[7] Cohen, D., "An Objective Measure of Seat Comfort,"
Aviation Space Environmental Medicine, 69:410-4, 1998.
[8] Hearon, B.F. and Brinkley, J .W., Effect of Seat Cushions
on Human Response to +Gz Impact, Aviation Space
Environmental Medicine, 57:113-21, 1986.
[9] Pint, S.M., Pellettiere, J .A., Nguyen, C., Development of
Objective Test Methods for Determination of Ejection Seat
Cushion Comfort, SAFE Association Conference Proceedings,
2002.
[10] Severance, C.M., B-2 Aircrew Seat Comfort Cushion
Design and Development, Northrop Grumman Corporation,
Palmdale, CA, 25-32, SAFE Association Symposium
Proceedings, 1997.
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