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Tue, Apr 19, 2005

Eclipse 500 Completes Nacelle Icing Tests

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.



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