NRC Expands Work on Fuel, Human Factors and Fatigue

 - June 17, 2013, 8:25 AM
NRC Aerospace is starting work to reduce the amount of time aerospace firms have to spend in wind tunnel testing to speed up product development programs.

Building on its long track record of supporting companies in technology research and development, NRC Aerospace has refocused its efforts on new areas such as the human factors involved in working and traveling on aircraft. It has started work on building a cabin and flight deck simulator to be available from 2014 to help in the development of aircraft interiors.

According to NRC general manager Jerzy Komorowski, the simulator, which is being developed from a former towing tank used to test ships, will be the first of its kind in North America. Quite apart from helping companies develop cabin products and systems, he said that the simulator would give airline executives an objective way to evaluate cabin layouts. NRC, which is Canada’s national aerospace laboratory, has drawn on its established in-house expertise from the construction industry to develop the simulator.

The new facility will be used to focus on three main areas of research: improving comfort and safety for both passengers and crew: improving the cabin environment and inflight entertainment,as well as enhancingflight-deck situational awareness and reducing energy consumption; and ensuring a healthier, safer cabin with features such as improved fire safety.

Here at the Paris Air Show, NRC (Hall 3 E71) is launching a new research program to find a suitable high-octane gasoline alternative to the existing 100LL (low lead) aviation gasoline. The organization is seeking partners to work with it in a project that many believe is needed to ensure the long-term viability of general aviation.

“As part of its ‘Clean Air Agenda,’ the government of Canada is committed to finding ways to reduce airborne pollutants that result from air transportation,” said Komorowski. “To achieve these reductions, we must find a suitable unleaded aviation gasoline alternative to ensure the long-term viability of the piston-powered aircraft, which is commonly used in general aviation.”

“Analysis of NRC’s world-first civil flight powered by 100 percent biofuel [which NRC conducted in a Dassault Falcon business jet] revealed 50 percent reductions in aerosol emissions compared with conventional jet fuel,” he added. “These are positive results, and we hope to build on them with this new research effort. It is a natural progression that NRC continues alternative jet and aviation gasoline fuels research for the general aviation market.”

Fatigue Damage

Separately, NRC has signed a two-year collaborative research agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to carry out widespread fatigue damage (WFD) assessment for JAXA’s curved fuselage panel testing.

The WFD assessments include fatigue life estimation on crack formation and/or fatigue damage onset, and multiple fatigue damage crack growth analysis to the first link-up with two neighboring cracks. Also included is the calibration and validation of NRC tools for WFD evaluation of existing and new aircraft design.

The studied curved panel is a section of a pressurized fuselage consisting of all stringers, frames, shear ties and skins. The curved panel test is a cost-effective way to study WFD of aircraft fuselages.

“Recently, the NRC widespread fatigue damage assessment tools were successfully applied to assess aircraft service life related to multiple fatigue damage and widespread fatigue damage for the Royal Canadian Air Force transport airplanes,” explained Komorowski. “NRC’s research progress and expertise on in-service applications will assist JAXA’s effort on evaluation of widespread fatigue damage on fuselage panels.”

In its continuing work to support future aircraft development, NRC is now involved in areas such as power requirements for blended wing aircraft. It also looking at ways that airframers can shorten the amount of wind tunnel testing they need to do. “We’ve looked at the huge delays in product development and believe we can do more of this work through simulation with shortened full-scale tests,” Komorowski told AIN. “This could reduce aircraft developments by three months.” NRC provides wind tunnel testing facilities itself.

Another key focus of NRC’s work is aircraft icing and the organization is supporting work to better detect, characterize and mitigate ice formation on aircraft. One bit of technology in the works is a sensor for detecting ice crystals that can also be used to detect volcanic ash in the atmosphere. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted and the resulting ash cloud caused major disruption to air transport across the Atlantic Ocean and Europe.

NRC is also continuing to work in three other main areas of research and development work: civil unmanned systems, air defense technology and aeronautical product development.