Arnold wind tunnel gets multimillion upgrade


Propulsion Wind Tunnel 16T at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tennessee has received a multimillion upgrade in response to anticipated growth in demand for testing.

The upgrade consists of a new Data Acquisition Systems (DAS) and Test Article Control Systems (TACS) installed on wind tunnel 16T’s High Angle Automated Sting (HAAS) testing cart and its multipurpose testing cart.

Propulsion wind tunnel 16T offers aerodynamic, propulsion, integration and weapons test capabilities. Each test cart provides a 16 square foot by 40 square foot long test section and can accommodate large-scale test models. The facility allows for testing at Mach numbers 0.05 to 1.60.

The two large removable test carts are installed in the tunnel during testing and become an integral part of the test section that holds the test model. While the DAS is responsible for the collection of testing data, the TACS is used to control the test itself, such as setting the position of a test article within the tunnel airflow.

Peter Macaluso, propulsion wind tunnel section leader at AEDC said, “It has been no surprise to us that the workload in test is increasing.

“It is work coming from all directions, and that allows us to keep our skills sharp and helps us maintain our position as the nation’s ground test facility of choice. Our expertise, data analysis capabilities, and improved systems allow for increased efficiency, higher reliability, and improved data accuracy for our customers.”

Due to the harsh conditions present in the tunnel while testing is ongoing, the computer units, which are physically mounted to the test carts where models are attached, are housed in large enclosures. Improved enclosures were built for both carts, with temperature- and pressure-control systems.

The upgraded enclosures provide protection from the testing elements and improve access to the computers should engineers need to make adjustments. The old enclosures took around 20 minutes to get into, while equipment contained within the new enclosures can be accessed in about five minutes.

The computers also received new wiring, as well as an update to Windows 10. The test carts’ encoders were also updated.

The multipurpose cart received upgrades to the encoders used to measure the multi-directional movement of the wind tunnel’s captive trajectory support system, and high-definition cameras were added on the cart arm to capture store motion.

The HAAS Cart will also be receiving an upgrade to its optical flow visualization capabilities within the coming months.

The upgrade for the testing carts has been completed a year ahead of schedule. The last upgrade to propulsion wind tunnel 16T was done around 15 years ago.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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