Design of Plants for the Airplane Crash Load Case by Means of FEM Simulation

Since the 1970s, the airplane crash load case has to be considered in the design of nuclear plants in Germany as part of the risk assessment. At the time, due to the geopolitical situation, the crash of a military airplane was relevant, since 9/11, it has also been the crash of passenger airplanes.

The load case is mainly analyzed for nuclear facilities, but can also be transferred to other critical infrastructures.

Analysis by means of the integral simulation method and models of numerous airplane and turbine types

We have been working on this load case since the 1970s and have been involved in the continuous enhancement of methods for the analysis. The state of the art is currently the integral simulation method. In order to obtain realistic information on the crash scenario, the airplane, projectile, building and their interaction are taken into account in one simulation.

For this purpose, we have developed various airplane models, for example for

  • short-haul flights (A320),

  • medium-haul flights (B767) and

  • long-haul flights (B747 and A380) as well as

  • military jets (Phantom F4).

We validated these models on the basis of published data.

Alternatively, the debris load case of a turbine can be investigated. For this purpose, we have models of different turbine types.

Model enhancements using the SPH method allow to provide information about fire loads as a result of the leakage of kerosene (animation).

Our service portfolio in the area of the airplane crash load case:

  • Qualitative and quantitative risk analyses to identify relevant and decisive scenarios
  • Determination of force-time curves and quasi-static equivalent loads for decoupled procedures
  • Risk of failure of the outer cover and determination of the damage caused by the crash
  • Evaluation of additional measures to increase the protection capacity
  • Determination of response spectra for the design of components inside
  • Determination of kerosene spreading due to the crash
  • Evaluation and design of components and structures for impact loads as well as robustness evaluations (progressive collapse)

Besides airplane crashes, impact loads can also be caused by vehicles, ships, debris loads and other objects. We efficiently use the available methods for each specific project – from load estimation by means of a simple nonlinear single-mass oscillator to integral simulation.

Please contact me personally


I will be happy to advise you on questions concerning the design of plants and components for operating and special loads.

Dr.-Ing. Marcus Ries

+49 931 49708-370
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Mechanical Engineering, TU Darmstadt

Acadamic Degree

Dipl.-Ing. / Dr.-Ing