Developing a pioneering wind tunnel system
42 Technology and electronics manufacturer Briton EMS have joined forces to help the Aircraft Research Association (ARA) develop and launch an innovative new research tool for use within its high-speed wind tunnel in Bedford.
The two companies have developed a sophisticated control system for ARA’s new gust generator, the first of its kind in the world capable of simulating gusts at transonic, or cruising, speeds that are typically experienced by aircraft.
The new generator will help drive new research into improving understanding of how turbulence affects aircraft performance and is part of an investment at ARA in new systems and services, funded to the order of £9M by the Aerospace Technology Institute. The tool could help manufacturers to modify their aircraft designs or to develop systems to compensate for gusts, leading to smoother flights.
42 Technology and Briton EMS – who have frequently worked together for industrial and consumer electronics clients – teamed up with ARA’s in-house engineering team to design, manufacture and install the control system for the new generator. 42 Technology designed the system to link the generator’s control desk with a network of 1800 solenoid valves, each of which needs to be opened and closed within 20 milliseconds to deliver the required gust profiles. The control system is housed in four two metre high electronics cabinets and was completed from initial design to installation in under two months.
“42 Technology and Briton EMS have been instrumental in helping to develop ARA’s new gust generator and to meet the demanding delivery deadlines for this large-scale project. Their engineers worked very well alongside our in-house team to develop and integrate the control system and to help us launch a world first for aerospace research,” said Kevin Williams, chief engineer at ARA.
“This is a great story,” said Briton EMS business manager Peter Towler. “We had to work within very tight timescales to make rapid prototypes, carry out new product engineering, fully procure all materials, manufacture and test the finished items.”
Following the team’s success on the gust generator, 42 Technology and Briton EMS hope to work together on future ARA projects and to help ensure the organisation continues to provide the global aerospace industry with access to the latest and most advanced development systems and tools.