Before modeling an aircraft crash on a shield building, it is very important to understand the physical phenomena and the structural behavior associated with this kind of impact. In the scientific literature, aircraft crash is classified as a soft impact, or as an impact of deformable missile. Nevertheless the existing classifications are not precise enough to be able to predict the structural response mode. In this paper, the author proposes a quantitative classification of soft and hard impacts, based on structural considerations, and in accordance with existing definitions and moreover with intuition. The experimental tests carried out during the last thirty years in the research field of aircraft crash are reviewed in the light of the new classification. It shows that this characterization has a real physical meaning: it gives the limit between two kinds of failure. Furthermore, since it is on one hand an a priori classification and on the other hand expressed in terms of non-dimension variables, it is very helpful to calibrate new experimental tests for aircraft crash. Finally, using this classification, the paper explains that during an aircraft crash, the perforation process of a concrete shield building is the result of structural waves (bending and shear waves). It opens the way to a prediction of aircraft crash perforation based on a criterion expressed in terms of stress resultant variables (combined bending moment, shear force and membrane force).

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