Pounding winds, 1,700-degree temperatures and 168 decibels of racket are a part of the testing environment at BFGoodrich Aerospace/Aerostructures Group.
A new “airflow facility” that adds extreme temperature and noise to wind tunnel testing was officially opened last week at the company’s Chula Vista plant, part of the aerospace business segment of Charlotte, N.C.-based BFGoodrich.
The South Bay airflow facility has several advantages over its predecessor, said Technology Labs group engineer Dave Beagle.
“Our old facility was built piece by piece over the past 30-plus years,” he said, “and was not necessarily constructed in a way that made operational efficiency easy to achieve.”
This time BFGoodrich started from scratch. The approach let managers and engineers “make lean operations our primary objective,” Beagle said.
The new facility contains several test sites. Each draws its air from a common “blow down” system. Air may be routed to:
– A progressive wave tube, for sonic fatigue tests that simulate the extreme noise and temperature of exhaust nozzle environments.
– A nozzle model thrust stand, for scale model tests used in the development of thrust reversers.
– An acoustic flow duct, for tests used to develop acoustic liner treatments.
– A fire test area, for demonstrations to the Federal Aviation Administration that various areas of an engine nacelle are fireproof.
– Other sites for special projects.
Beagle noted the advantages of the new facility include natural gas heat (the old facility used hydrogen), improved computer access and a “demand expander.” The latter will optimize the run time of the facility’s air compressors, resulting in lower energy bills.