Canadian National Research Council's New Icing Tunnel Puts
Engine Through Its Paces
Albuquerque, New Mexico-based
jet-maker Eclipse Aviation has just completed a $335,000 contract
with the National Research Council Institute for Aerospace Research
(NRC Aerospace) for engine nacelle icing tests on its Eclipse 500
jet. The test program, which included icing tunnel-based nacelle
and engine/nacelle combinations required for certification
purposes, took place during March and April at the NRC Aerospace
facilities in Ottawa, Canada.
Jeff Bird, Manager of the Propulsion Group at NRC Aerospace,
said, "It is uncommon for us to work directly with an airframe
manufacturer; most of our past icing tests have been with engine
companies. In fact, the aircraft's engine is a Pratt & Whitney
Canada (P&WC) PW610 that underwent icing tests for P&WC in
our facilities in February. It was then put in the Eclipse nacelle
for the March tests. To carry out these tests, we designed a new
icing tunnel to surround the nacelle so that the airflow conditions
duplicate what will happen in flight."
The Propulsion Group at NRC Aerospace has been testing engines
since the 1940s. It conducts many of the icing tests for most of
the gas turbine engine manufacturers. Its staff and facilities
offer a broad range of gas turbine testing services, including
adverse weather (icing, fog, ice sheet, and hail-storm), bird
ingestion, and endurance testing, as well as complex development
work. Two of its four test cells are available for icing
certification, while the others can be used to test turboshaft and
helicopter engines and for turboprop development. Rigs to test and
evaluate bearing and seal components are also available.
NRC Aerospace can test engine families in the 1,000 lb - 25,000
lb. thrust range. Support for full-authority digital engine control
(FADEC) is available, as is high-quality, real-time data on
temperatures, pressures, strains, fuel and speeds, for as many as
1200 points throughout the engine. The information can be digitized
at very high frequency (up to 100 kHz) and stored for
post-analysis; it can also be transmitted to the client's home base
while a test is running. Full video capability and analysis is an
integral part of the data capture.
"We provide everything - design, construction, testing and
analysis. Our ability to carry out a complete turnkey project is
unique, and our processes are well-known and well-accepted by the
FAA, EASA, and Transport Canada. We're also very cost-effective
because we use ambient air, and we can add refrigeration for
small-engine tests," said Bird.
The NRC Aerospace Ottawa-based facilities provide a reliably
cold winter location for icing tests: the icing season runs from
the beginning of December to the end of March, with external
temperatures ranging from near freezing to below -7� F
(-22� C), to match the typical certification matrix.
The Eclipse twin-engine jet is currently under development and
will be on the market in early 2006.