NEXT GENERATION OPEN-AIR WIND TUNNELS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SAFETY IN 2020
Updated December 2019
- What is the open-air vertical wind tunnels?
- Some outdated notions about open-air wind tunnels
- What are the applicable safety levels?
- Important characteristics for mass entertainment industry
- The best choice for certain requirements
Safety matters. Always. Safety issue is one of the most important for any entertainment facility or device. This was particularly the case for high-tech equipment such as vertical wind tunnels for purposes of entertainment.
Tunnel safety has become a priority driver for their development. Many technical solutions have made them very safe for everyday usage.
Modern technologies allow for more solutions to higher levels of tunnels safety
Open-air wind tunnels.
Flashback to 1979 – Jean Saint-Germain invents the first open air wind tunnel for entertainment. In a room filled with mattresses people dressed in silly costumes jump in and out of the wind stream, often awkwardly hitting the padded side walls.
This is what many people imagine when hearing about an open wind tunnel, but since then Aerodium has come a long way to provide a safe and comfortable experience for everyone. With the introduction of newest O2S model Aerodium is developing the 5th technological generation of open wind tunnel technology, really advanced and really safe for flying. Seeing flying people at a height of 20 meters (65 ft) at the level of treetops, many people stare in disbelief. At this point Aerodium can safely say that the open tunnels are not only viewable for a large audience (Festivals, Shows and Brand Promotion Tours), but they have all the essential features needed for a comfortable and safe flying.
Outdated notions about open-air wind tunnels.
Cons that need forget.
Early open wind tunnels as well as modern recircular type indoor tunnels produce noise peaking at 120-130 dBA. Having a glass enclosure helps damping the noise in the spectator area, thus making the recircular wind tunnels seem acceptably noisy. Aerodium’s new O2s and O3s model series manage to reduce the sound inside the flight zone to astonishing 90 dBA and just 65 dBA in the spectator area. For the first time skydivers can experience flying without earplugs! Even dense urban areas/neighborhoods can now consider having an outdoor wind tunnel.
While this is true, it doesn’t make the open wind tunnel concept less attractive. Open wind tunnels operate with a somewhat different concept as they are oriented towards entertainment of general public and families. Summer, sunshine, vacation time, why would people want to spend their day off indoors? The outdoor concept also allows creating spectacular light shows and performances for festivals, celebrations, and promotion. But for the case of Nordic weather conditions, there is always the option to integrate the open wind tunnel inside a building at a fraction of the cost of a recircular type indoor wind tunnel.
Aerodium know what it takes to master flying. From Olympic games in Turin, to show performances in Disneyland, company instructors spend endless hours training to deliver breathtaking stunts and action to the public.
However, no beginner is allowed to fly more than 4 meters (13 ft) high and there are strict procedures put in place. Two instructors are always actively working to ensure maximum level of safety and are ready to step in, should it be necessary. Even flying at a height of 4 meters is absolutely safe. Aerodium come from an industry of extreme sports and have developed and produced safety solutions for Space X, Red Bull, and Nitro Circus. Aerodium make no compromises on safety net and cushion design and customers are in safe hands.
Wind tunnels security levels
Primary, secondary and extra featured
Primary Level Safety
Most wind tunnels built today are 3rd, 4th or even 5th generation tunnels. First, 2 generations practically don’t exist, since open-air tunnels leave this category years ago.
The two most basic safety rules that almost always are followed in all tunnels are:
- Always have an appropriately trained spotter at the door.
- Always have an appropriately trained driver in the driving booth.
Safety briefing beforehand, given by a fully qualified instructor by standardizing training and safety procedure.
This means that the wind tunnel manufacturer must provide training for qualified technical personnel and flight instructors. In the first period after the opening of the new tunnel, the manufacturer’s delegated instructor team works hand in hand with the newly created team until the level of training reaches a safe standard of performance.
- Safety training class. Before any is allowed to enter the vertical wind tunnel, they must attend a safety training conducted by experienced instructors. For childrens a parent or legal guardian must be present during the class.
Secondary Level Safety
Newest generation open-air tunnels have high safety level features:
1 . Net Elasticity:
– more complex and expensive net maintaining a high grade of elasticity throughout the entire surface. Have used only a circle type net due to its better absorption properties.
2. Side netting:
– netting around the wind column. Their size and height are calculated so that the location of the flyer outside it is impossible according to the laws of physics
3. Safety mattresses.
Safety mattresses are a very important safety feature that protects the pilot from a painful landing. The area of the mattress is several times bigger than area of possible landing.
4. Stable wind flow (centered flow).
Open-air outdoor wind tunnels do not use a flight camera or diffuser. The concentration of the wind flow is important here so that it does not disperse, which could deflect the flyers and create some safety risks. New-generation open tunnels have special flow guides that streamline the flow, preventing flow scattering. As a result, the flyer will always be directly above the stream and, in the event of any unexpected movement, they will start to deviate from the center, will slightly fall on the safety mattresses.
5. Adjustable wind speed.
Depending on the flyer weight and flying skills, the operator always adjusts the wind flow so that the person is always at optimum altitude and the instructor can control all movements, keep tandem position and provide 100% safety.
6.Noise level in the spectator area.
Noise level is also included in wind tunnel safety performance. Excessive volume hurts health.
- to NIOSH, exposure to noise levels of 85 decibels (dBA) for more than 8 hours in a day may affect hearing—and the louder the noise, the less time it takes to cause harm.
- generation open-air tunnels create till 75dB noise level
- generation open-air tunnels create till 65dB noise level
- levels belong to the negligible risk category and do not impact hearing. Busy road (80dB) or ride on mower (90dB) create much more noise.
7. Airflow quality.
Higher quality wind flow is not only more comfortable but also less in turbulences which can move flyers beside.
5’th generation create smoother airflow, thanks to a dedicated air channel that provides it.
8. Spin-wheel technology.
Aerodium wind tunnels are equipped with spin-wheel technology, providing a smooth landing even in the case of a sudden power outage. As the fans gradually start turning slower, they give a few second time gap for the flyer to react.
9. Delayed Tunnel Shutdown (DTS) system.
Protects the flyer from falling due to the sudden technical shutdown of the tunnel engine. An autonomous safety system provides a gradual reduction in the wind flow. The operation of this system cannot be affected, i.e. the human factor when an operator overrides a security statement. The DTS system will start to operate in this situation and land the flyer on the ground without a sudden fall.
10. A.T.O.M. – Aerodium Tunnel Online Monitoring system.
Allows Aerodium engineers to identify serious hardware issues and to resolve them in a timely manner.All tunnels always are on the online regime for status monitoring, immediate troubleshooting and software update remotely.
Since taking over the Aerodium business from Canada in 2005, Aerodium have not registered any major accidents or long-lasting injuries (bruises don’t count) in any of our tunnels and we are continuing to improve the technology to make sure that our tunnels provide the safest way of flying.
Important characteristics that significantly expand the application of open-air tunnels in the mass entertainment industry:
Mobility. Having an easy and quick to install wind tunnel means it is possible to organize different shows, promotions, and events and use the wind tunnel to attract people to a specific location……… READ MORE