Avionics, fatigue, vibration, materials and flight, engine, non-destructive…all of these areas require specialist products, software and training. And they are all intertwined into aviation and the manufacturing and maintenance of the aircraft operated in this industry where it is imperative to be ready for anything at any time. We will be exploring the latest technological advances in aerospace testing as well as the tried and true products already here.
Experienced interior products supplier and turnkey aircraft interiors integrator Jamco America, Inc., announced its extensive testing capabilities for a variety of industries including but not limited to: aerospace, automotive, space, defense, and marine product testing. With test facilities that include mechanical properties, static load, fire properties, ballistic, and environmental testing, as well as a complete, FAA-accepted dynamic test facility, Jamco America experts can help companies evaluate products at almost every stage in the design cycle.
Jamco America’s comprehensive dynamic test facility is one of only a small number of FAA-accepted facilities in the U.S. Equipped with an accelerator-type impact system; the facility is capable of testing products in highly specified acceleration profiles. It also includes extensive sensors and data acquisition technology to maximize information generated and processed from each testing profile.
The materials testing lab is ideal for earlier phases in the design process, when it is necessary to evaluate the mechanical properties of new materials, particularly metals and advanced composites. This test facility can evaluate the tensile strength, compression strength, and other key mechanical properties at room temperature and elevated temperature profiles.
Their extensive testing facilities also include fire properties testing, acoustic testing, static load testing, ballistic testing, and product cycle testing to evaluate the lifecycle of a component or assembly. Regardless of the phase of development a customer’s products are in, Jamco America experts can provide extensive testing data for optimizing product performance. In addition to decades of experience in the aerospace industry, individuals on the Jamco America testing team are experienced in product testing and other applications.
BAE Systems recently unveiled its virtual System of Systems (SoS) Testbed, a platform that models, simulates and evaluates both fielded and new technologies as well as advanced data management processes before they are deployed into multi-domain operational environments.
The testbed is an open architecture system integration and engineering tool that links formal architecture specifications, digital architecture modeling, high-fidelity modeling and simulation, and advanced command and control (C2) enabling technologies. This linkage identifies and recommends optimal solutions to decision makers based on cost, capabilities, and resources.
“We are proud to deliver this innovative systems integration capability to meet our customers’ multi-domain operational needs,” said Al Whitmore, president of BAE Systems Intelligence & Security. “Our systems engineering and modernization capabilities will accelerate the delivery of information and support national security missions.”
“As a large-scale systems integration company, BAE Systems offers capabilities that enable Joint Force decision makers to better understand where to deploy resources to ensure scalable, timely, and effective C2 against imminent threats,” said Ravi Ravichandran, BAE Systems Intelligence & Security vice president and chief technology officer. “Our SoS Testbed platform provides system engineering linkages that just don’t exist today. It quickly identifies critical value points within a customer’s architecture that could be improved with emerging capabilities.”
Through a comprehensive model-based systems engineering analysis of digital engineering artifacts, kill chain performance, and data management systems, BAE Systems’ testbed capabilities identify technical and system limitations. It recommends areas where emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, etc.) could enhance time-sensitive operational timelines and joint targeting missions. The testbed accomplishes this through extreme traceability, direct mapping, and virtual modeling.
EvoScann’s highly miniaturized differential pressure scanner has increased its accuracy levels by 5 times, when compared with its previous capabilities, firmly placing it as the most accurate scanner at this level in the market.
Engineering developments and continuous improvements have enabled the EvoScann P8-D to deliver full-scale accuracy which is 5 times better than before. Full scale accuracy was 0.5% and is now 0.1% in the key 100mbar and 200mbar ranges, which represents much greater accuracy in the data produced.
Used in aerodynamic testing environments, the P8-D is an eight-channel, digital pressure scanner providing direct true differential measurement in engineering units.
Managing Director, Paul Crowhurst said, “We are thrilled with the results we are achieving. Customers were happy with the original P8-D pressure scanner, but we felt we could do better. Our culture of continuous improvement led to these exciting developments and now our customers can have even more confidence in the measurements achieved.”
The P8-D miniature pressure scanner is small enough to fit in tight spaces, enabling engineers to gain valuable data from previously unreachable areas.
Development in the EU funded H2020 CleanSky2 program is taking shape as a consortium including a leading pressure scanner manufacturer completes the specification stage.
UK-based, Evolution Measurement have completed the specification stage of the bespoke pressure scanners which will be used during the RACER aircraft’s aerodynamic testing stage. EvoScann scanners will be custom-built to meet the requirements of in-flight aerodynamic testing. Using a variety of channel configurations, data will be delivered in absolute and true differential measurement modes.
Specification has been considered to ensure precision, resolution and repeatability. The scanners will be housed in bespoke cases to ensure reliable performance whilst in the flight condition and they will be positioned into custom-built locations on the horizontal and vertical stabilisers to deliver true ultra-high fidelity measurements. Scanners will also be positioned on the rakes being produced by consortium partners Vectoflow and Any-Shape.
Uniquely, scanners will be connected in a daisy chain configuration, reducing the length of cables required, whilst delivering readings from each scanner, individually.
“I am so proud of the contribution our highly skilled engineering team are making, in what will be a game changer for the aircraft flight-test industry,” said Paul Crowhurst, Evolution Measurement’s managing director. He added, “We are supporting the development of sustainable air travel, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.”
Rolls-Royce-opened its new Testbed 80 facility, the largest indoor test facility in the world, at its headquarters in Derby, UK in May. But Rolls-Royce is eyeing more than traditional powerplant testing for this new facility as the company goes all in on sustainability and emissions reduction.
In May, Rolls-Royce-opened its new Testbed 80 facility at its headquarters in Derby, UK, but this is not just a new engine test cell, it is an important marker for the company’s ambitions for the future as it aims to become a major player in environmentally friendly aviation.
Simon Burr, director of Product Development and Technology, explains that Testbed 80 joins a network of engine, system and component test facilities in the UK, Europe and North America (plus a Boeing 747-200 and a 747-400 used for flight trials) and its work will include the development of the UltraFan ultra-high bypass ratio technology demonstrator. The target is a 25% improvement in efficiency over the Trent 700.
However, the £90 million investment will also be used to improve the fuel efficiency and durability of existing engines and to develop more environmentally friendly alternative electric and hybrid powerplant systems for the future. This reflects the company’s involvement in a number of projects internationally that are pushing for cleaner aviation.
The size of the building makes it the largest indoor test facility in the world. This has been dictated by the hugely increased airflow mass requirements of UltraFan. The demonstrator will have a thrust rating of 85,000lb, although the technology has been designed to be scalable from 25,000lb to 100,000lb, making any future production engines capable of powering both narrowbody and widebody aircraft. At its higher thrust, the engine has a 15:1 bypass ratio and the geared fan has a diameter of 140in. That compares to 9.3:1 and 118in respectively for the Trent XWB-84 for the Airbus A350.
To accommodate that fan size, there is a 49ft diameter main test bed cross section, while to produce the correct diffusion of the bypass air and exhaust gases, there is a long augmentor tube some 110ft long. The mixture is then turned through 90° before being vented through a 123ft high exhaust stack. The overall length of the building is 425.5ft.
Capabilities will include endurance testing, blade-off tests and water, sand and bird ingestion, while a dynamic X-ray capability will monitor clearances between moving parts, capturing 30 images/second. The latter is being funded by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) under its Proving Advanced Concept Engines (PACE) program. It will be mounted on the pylon, which is being supplied by UK-based Hyde Group.
Most test cells have an overhead gantry system that allows engines to be raised and moved from the preparation area and mated directly to the pylon. In Testbed 80, engines will be transferred on a robotic mover, which will then raise the entire propulsion unit to the pylon. Although this makes the vehicle much bigger and stronger, it requires less maintenance and improves safety.
Of course, as well as the usual connection via the pylon, the engines will be heavily instrumented, with more than 10,000 parameters being measured (3,500 to 5,000 on current engines), with up to 200,000 samples per second, giving a data flow of 1 terabyte/hour.
The test cell was used for the first time 12 January 2021, with a Trent engine, which reached 100,000lb thrust just a week later — the test cell maximum is 155,000lb of thrust. These were functionality checks. As no production engines will be tested, it does not have to be calibrated and approved by the aviation authorities.
Design and construction have been led by MDS Aero Support Corporation of Ottawa, Canada, a long-term partner of the engine OEM, which also supplied all of the test systems, including aerodynamic and acoustic elements, a thrust measurement system, engine adapters for current and future engines, and mechanical and fluid support systems. It also supplied its nxDAS data acquisition and controls system. Building work started in May 2018.
Noise has been an important consideration throughout the design process. As well as external noise (the exhaust is quiet enough that the facility can be used at any time of day or night), great care has been taken to avoid infrasound, low frequency noise that can have a detrimental effect on the integrity of the building as well as the employees working in close proximity. MDS used Computational Fluid Dynamics to ensure there were no tones or resonances in the air flow. This has involved the use of double skinned walls in some areas, while ballistic protection has been installed for blade off tests. In fact, noise from the test cell is so low that it is relayed into the control room, as skilled engineers can identify a problem by ear, with the possibility it may not show up on the telemetry.
The first UltraFan run in Testbed 80 is scheduled for next year but it is already being used for endurance tests and the evaluation of new manufacturing processes coatings. When that run happens, the engine will be use 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), another part of the environmental program. The facility’s 32,000 USG fuel system was designed to handle different fuel types, including SAF. Burr notes that UltraFan has fuel seals made from synthetic material, which will not suffer degradation like nitrile seals when exposed to SAF over a period of time, one of the reasons for the current limit of a 50/50 maximum blend.
To further this work, at the end of June, Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with fuel company Shell to progress the use of SAF. This includes Rolls-Royce’s new SAFinity service, providing SAF for business aircraft operators, with Shell as exclusive supplier, but will also involve Rolls-Royce lending its technical expertise to advise Shell in its new fuels development. The two partners will also engage with industry bodies and forums to progress strategic policy issues. One of these is gaining approval for 100% SAF, as the company has a commitment to have all in-production civil aero engines compatible by 2023. In addition, they will assess broader opportunities in other mobility sectors such as shipping and rail.
Speaking at the announcement of the MoU, Paul Stein, chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce, said: “We believe that working together on these aims can deliver benefits for both the development of new innovations as well as collaborating to find ways to unlock the net carbon emissions reduction potential of technology that is already in use today. SAFs will not only power large aircraft and business aviation, but also hybrid electric Urban Air Mobility and the forthcoming generation of hybrid fixed wing city hoppers, which is why we place such importance on the ramp up of SAF adoption across the industry.”
The company is heavily involved in electric and hybrid propulsion and is making real progress, along with making significant investments. Electric aircraft are often seen as too limited for commercial operations but one project shows that reality is not far away.
Rolls-Royce and Norwegian airline Widerøe announced a joint research program in 2019 to evaluate and develop electrical aircraft concepts that would enter commercial service by 2030 and produce an 80% emission reduction in domestic flights by 2040.
The reason for the collaboration is that Widerøe currently flies Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft on a Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) network, with many Public Service Obligation routes, linking remote communities with larger towns and cities. Before the pandemic, there were around 400 flights per day using a network of 44 airports, and 74% of the flights had distances less than 170 miles, with the shortest flight durations between seven and 15 minutes. Those operating parameters are ideal for electric aircraft
Separately, Rolls-Royce had been working with Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam on an electric version of its 11-seat Tecnam P2012 Traveller, called P-Volt, announced in October 2020. This, in turn, built on the H3PS project: a hybrid electric version of the P2010 four-seater, pairing an electric motor from Rolls-Royce with a combustion engine from Rotax.
In March this year, the three companies joined forces, accelerating the program to entry into service of an electric P2012 in 2026.
On a larger scale, July saw a further step forward in the 2.5-megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator program for future regional aircraft. This had its roots in the Airbus/Rolls-Royce/Siemens E-Fan X project, which would have seen one of four Lycoming ALF502 engines on a BAe RJ100 test aircraft replaced with a hybrid engine combining an AE2100 turboprop with a 2.5MW generator. Sadly, COVID-19 caused Airbus to pull the plug in April 2020, by which time Rolls-Royce had purchased the electric propulsion branch of Siemens, transferring the work to Rolls-Royce Electrical Norway. As yet another pointer to the company’s environmental commitment, it took over development of the hybrid engine itself, turning it into PGS1.
The July event saw the delivery of the generator and related power electronics delivered from Trondheim, Norway, to the newly-renovated Testbed 108 in Bristol, UK, where the AE2100 engine element, specialist controls and the thermal management system from Indianapolis had already been run.
Again, looking at other industry sectors, in addition to hybrid-electric propulsion, the generator could also be used as part of a ‘more-electric’ system for larger aircraft or within future ground or marine applications. Incidentally, Testbed 80 also has extensive load bank capability to support this type of testing.
Both Testbed 108 and PGS1 have been supported by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute’s MegaFlight project, while design, make and testing of the 2.5MW electrical generator, motor and power electronics in Trondheim has been supported by the EU Clean Sky 2 program.
Finally, Rolls-Royce announced in June that it is planning an £80 million investment in developing energy storage systems (ESS) for electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems that will enable aircraft to undertake zero emissions flights of over 100 miles on a single charge. That includes eVTOLs (electric vertical take off and landing) in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market (where it is working with UK-based Vertical Aerospace on the VA-X4 — see related story page 59) and fixed-wing aircraft, with up to 19 seats in the commuter market. Targets include the creation of around 300 jobs by 2030 and the integration of more than 5 million battery cells per annum into modular systems by 2035.
Rolls-Royce has considerable experience, having designed 10 different aerospace battery systems. Of these, four designs have already flown in three aircraft, accumulating more than 250 hours of flight experience and another two designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021. This includes a battery developed with Electroflight, its UK manufacturing partner in the ACCEL program, which has built the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ (a heavily modified Nemesis NXT racing aircraft). That aircraft is planned to break the world speed record for all-electric aircraft later this year. Another partner in developing energy storage technology is WMG, an academic department at the University of Warwick specializing in collaboration between academia and the public and private sectors, which has extensive knowledge gained through supporting the automotive and other sectors. ATI has once again supported both ACCEL and the initial ESS research and technology.
For a company best known for conventional turbofan and turboprop engines, it is clear that a new Rolls-Royce is emerging, one that is determined to push the boundaries of technology when it comes to greener aviation. This is all the more impressive in the light of the hammering the company has taken because of the pandemic, not just with new production engines but with the TotalCare support business, as flying hours have been slashed.
AEM Limited, a division of AMETEK MRO, announced it has signed an agreement with Techtest Limited, an HR Smith Group company. The agreement will see AEM become an authorized repair center for Techtest products.
Under the agreement, AEM will test, recode, and repair Techtest emergency locator transmitters, which are fitted to various manufacturers’ life rafts. As an authorized repair center, AEM will have access to Techtest maintenance documentation, technical support, and spares purchasing.
“We are excited to establish a successful relationship between Techtest and AEM. The approval underpins AEM’s position as a leading MRO provider in safety equipment and means we can offer enhanced customer support,” said Andy Wheeler, AEM’s divisional vice president and managing director.
Jake Ford, head of Global Sales and Marketing for Techtest said, “We are pleased to establish this repair and service agreement with AEM, who will provide excellent support to the growing user base of our market leading PLBs and ELTs.”
Jamco Corporation announces its new, hands-free lavatory lock knob and door handle, developed in collaboration with All Nippon Airways (ANA), a Skytrax certified 5 Star Airline in Japan. For passengers that do not wish to use their fingers or hands to touch the lavatory door, Jamco and ANA provide a solution that allows them to use their forearm or elbow to open the door and return to their seats with their hands remaining clean. The hands-free lavatory lock knob and door handle are low-cost items which does not burden airline operational budget. This can be installed simply over night by airlines to the existing lavatories without major modification. ANA is the development partner for the hands-free products, expected to be launched soon as the first operator, which furthers the ANA Care Promise, the company’s commitment to ensure health and safety of passengers with hygienic environments in airports, lounges, and onboard aircrafts.
In the wake of COVID-19, touchless, hygienic cabin interiors support passengers’ need for safety during travel. Keeping hands clean by frequently washing with soap and water helps prevent infection. The new hands-free lavatory door system can assure passengers to exit the lavatory keeping their hands cleaner after washing, thus helping stop the spread of illness.
Many aircraft interior suppliers have proposed a variety of solutions that address travel safety during the COVID-19 crisis; however, as known of today, Jamco’s hands-free lavatory door system is the only product worldwide to roll out a demonstration with an airline.
This demonstration was done as part of development with ANA. The hands-free lavatory door was rolled out for testing at Tokyo Haneda Airport in August, and was well-received by the majority of passengers.
Jamco’s hands-free lavatory door technology, in development with ANA Care Promise, and other concepts of the company’s “Project Blue Sky” initiative are designed to increase cabin cleanliness and to alleviate passenger stress during air travel, both critically important in the wake of the COVID-19 global health crisis.
Jamco has the unique position of being the lavatory and galley supplier for a variety of aircrafts, including the sole original equipment lavatory and galley supplier for the 787 aircraft. Jamco welcomes all airlines to take on the opportunity to implement hands-free lavatory door technology.
The availability of optical modem technology (optical digital converter aka ODC) for the market has taken a major step forwards with the signing of an agreement between TNO, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and Celestia STS for an IP licence agreement to commercialize Optical Modems.
The commercialization of optical modem technology will contribute greatly to enabling secure high speed broadband connectivity and increase communication efficiency on a large scale, the companies say. This will address the growing demand for data in society as well as ensure the exchange of enormous amounts of data needed for space missions.
Optical Modem Technology The optical modem provides reception and processing functionality of digital bitstreams output by optical detectors. It is capable of receiving data rates of up to 10Gbps.The optical modem is ideal for low-latency, high throughput optical communication in ground stations and experimental set-ups. The modem provides electrical, data extraction, protocol/data handling, error correction and status annotation functions. The recovered data is offloaded from the modem using a dedicated 10Gbit TCP/IP streaming interface to a commercial server platform for data storage and further processing.
Long-term cooperation The agreement comes after three years of collaboration between TNO and Noordwijk-based Celestia STS, specialists in ground-based solutions for satellite testing, communications and data processing. The ambitious optical modem project was initiated in September 2018, when Celestia STS joined a TNO-led consortium to design, build and test a gigabit-class optical ground station capable of offering broadband speeds of up to 10Gbps. Celestia used its extensive track record in designing and building state-of-the-art EGSE (Electrical Ground Support Equipment) and modem solutions to develop an Optical Digital Converter for use in free-space optical terminals and optical ground stations as well as in experimental set-ups for optical communication.
It also partnered with TNO R&D teams to develop the technology to produce an Optical Modem based on an O3K demodulation scheme, with firmware based processing, high speed digital signal input and data rates of up to 10Gbps.
This will now move forward to full production and commercialisation by Celestia STS, using the jointly developed technology, offering a powerful solution for the telecoms market, ground station operators looking to build new optical ground stations and companies developing ambitious new business models based on optical technologies.
Partners in the agreement
“I’m very glad we can continue our trusted relationship with Celestia STS and bring Optical Modem technology to the market together. This is an important step in our mission to support Dutch industry in taking a strong position in the growing market for free space optical communication equipment,” says Erik Fritz, program manager at TNO.
“It has been fantastic to have been involved in such a successful collaboration with TNO and to be in a position where we will shortly see the fruits of the ground-breaking work we have been doing with them,” says Dougie Johnman, COO of Celestia STS. “Our plans to commercialize the technology, build and launch a robust optical modem offering are very well advanced and it will be soon that we see this product reach the market. This plays to our strengths in every way; we have extensive know-how and production capability that leave us ideally placed to build a commercially viable product and be one of the first movers in the market in a technology that offers a very big step forwards for so many players” he says.
SAKOR Technologies has developed a series of dynamometer systems for customers required to test and verify the level of efficiency of electric motors in accordance with a variety of national and international standards, including IEC 60034-2-1; IEEE 112B; and Canadian standard C390-93. The SAKOR units can be used test from two to eight pole motors ranging from 10 watts to more than 3 megawatts.
As part of the global effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, regulators are developing energy efficiency standards for the billions of small, medium, and large electric motors used around the world. These regulations specify how to ensure motors are meeting the efficiency standards that have come into effect or are being phased in. First in line for regulation are induction motors; it is likely that permanent magnet motors will be regulated in the coming years, followed later by inverter driven motors.
The new line of SAKOR motor testing dynamometers offers high-accuracy testing for designers and manufacturers of electric motors of any size, for use in applications ranging from large industrial equipment to consumer appliances, including fans, refrigerators, and washing machines. They have been optimized so that individual machines can test the widest possible range of motor sizes and still maintain necessary accuracy tolerances. SAKOR systems meet the standards’ tight tolerances and exacting requirements regarding data precision and accuracy. Capable of precisely measuring motor efficiency, these dynamometers provide an essential tool to engineers seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption and enhance energy efficiency to meet strict environmental standards and regulations.
“We have worked hard to define this line of systems to give the maximum utility per machine and make it most cost-effective for the customer,” said Randal Beattie, president of SAKOR. “By optimizing equipment to test the widest range of motor sizes with one system while staying within required accuracy levels, customers will need to buy the fewest number of machines at the lowest total cost.”
Viavi Solutions introduced the VIAVI AVX-10K Flight Line Test Set, enabling comprehensive performance verification testing of critical airborne systems from a simple-to-use device. The AVX-10K helps avionics technicians maximize productivity and efficiency across fixed-base operators (FBOs), avionics and airframes manufacturing, or maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
The AVX-10K validates the installation and performance of airborne systems during required bi-annual checks, as outlined in FAR Part 43 sections 91.411 (reported altitude tests) and 91.413. The single device combines the navigation and communication test features of the VIAVI IFR4000 and the surveillance test features of the VIAVI IFR6000. With test capabilities ranging from a quick system auto-test to in-depth troubleshooting, the versatile AVX-10K can be used for maintenance needs in the cockpit and anywhere around the aircraft.
The AVX-10K offers an intuitive user interface to help technicians work more efficiently by streamlining setup, testing and reporting. Plus, the device can be remotely operated with the VIAVI Solutions Mobile Tech App on a smartphone or tablet, enabling technicians to perform tests around the aircraft or even in the cockpit. The AVX-10K can be purchased in a variety of pre-defined test configurations, and updates are simple with the cloud-based VIAVI StrataSync system. StrataSync also provides a central location for securely storing, viewing and sharing test data.
“With the AVX-10K, VIAVI gives FBOs, MROs and OEMs a powerful new way to streamline testing and maximize their technicians’ productivity,” said Guy Hill, director of Avionics Test Products for VIAVI. “Its intuitive design, test upgradeability and seamless integration with our cloud-based VIAVI StrataSync system makes the AVX-10K the ideal flight line test solution for today and tomorrow.”