Ford Motor Co. debuted this week the only five-row side-curtain airbag in the automotive industry, according to a company release. The airbag, which is featured in the 2015 Transit 15-passenger wagon, is the largest in any Ford vehicle. The automaker cooperated with TRW Automotive to develop the new airbag.
Ford certified that the new airbag is the only five-row airbag, Edward Saenz, a Ford safety communications representative, said. He added that Ford is not aware of any bigger airbag that is used in the industry.
The bag is 15 ft (4.6 m) long and 3 ft (0.9 m) tall with a volume of 120 L (4.2 ft3). In comparison, a side-airbag for a sedan, such as the Ford Fusion, is 6.8 ft (2.1 m) long and 2 ft (0.6 m) tall with a volume of 42 L (1.5 ft3), according to the release.
The two inflators have a capacity of 2-7.0 moles of stored gas and are among the largest in the industry in terms of both physical size and inflation, said John Wilkerson, a media representative from TRW Automotive.
The bag typically fills in 30-40 ms following the detection of a crash, Wilkerson added.
During a crash, sensors detect the impact and trigger the inflators, which are packaged above the windows behind the B- and D-pillars, to fill the entire airbag with stored helium. The helium is poured down into the airbag. The pattern in which the inflators fill the bag is engineered to manage the direction of deployment and control cushion thickness throughout the length of the bag.
TRW, working with Ford, relied heavily on computer simulation and confirming tests while utilizing its patented “X-tether” technology to determine the best way to deploy the bag. The bag also has a specific folding pattern, Wilkerson said.
The bag remains inflated for several seconds because it is made of a coated, polyester-based fabric that holds the gas. The single-bag design is combined with tethering and the vehicle’s B-, C-, and D-pillars, which help support the bag during deployment.