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E. Improving Airline Engine Safety Standards

Narrator: This is Science Today. While it's reassuring to know airline engine manufacturers do certify the safety of their engines to a certain level, there's always that rare "what if" scenario which may not be explored. That's why physicist Richard Couch of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says the Federal Aviation Administration, along with engine manufacturers, are working with the Lab to expand their testing options.

Couch: There's many ways of failing and many ways of trying to breach that engine structure. You just can't test all of them. So what the manufacturers and the FAA jointly have decided is that it's worth looking into seeing if we can certify some of these safety issues without actually having to do full up tests of everything.

Narrator: Researchers enhanced a current 3-D computer model to simulate rare events of engine failure.

Couch: The event people are most interested in is the failure of a fan blade and the debris from a fan blade exiting the engine and either getting into fuselage and causing damage or injury or perhaps even hitting the other engine, which could destroy both engines.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.