Press Release

ARA Opens Powered Test Cell Facility

Aircraft Research Association (ARA) is pleased to announce the formal opening of its recently upgraded powered test cell facility.

The powered test cell is a fully enclosed static and protected test facility with high-pressure pneumatic, electrical and hydraulic power drive sources that, alongside ARA’s high-accuracy measurement capabilities, enable world-class powered testing and evaluation. The facility lends itself to a range of applications including:

  • Commissioning of test rigs and equipment prior to full transonic wind tunnel testing in facilities at ARA and other facilities worldwide
  • Engine nozzle development testing
  • High RPM propeller/air turbine simulation and commissioning
  • Industrial equipment commissioning and endurance testing

ARA’s test cell incorporates a dedicated control room alongside workshop facilities for clients and ARA support staff. ARA also has an advanced manufacture facility on the same site which is available to support commissioning and test requirements.

Developed for the exacting standards required by world class aeronautical research, this facility offers a high quality, flexible set of capabilities to engineering companies across industries. With our team of highly skilled and experienced engineers, we can support a range of requirements from straightforward equipment trials to the commissioning of complex, unique systems.

Rolls-Royce were invited to open the facility having recently used the powered test cell to commission a dual stream jet propulsion rig prior to testing in ARA’s Transonic Wind Tunnel. Rolls-Royce will utilise the test results in the development of their next generation Ultra-High Bypass Ratio (UHBR) engines. 

Representing Rolls-Royce was Chris Sheaf, Installations Aerodynamics Specialist, who commented:

“I am grateful for all the efforts ARA has made to develop this new jet propulsion rig and to upgrade the powered test cell and all its supporting services, enabling us to acquire the high quality data with world class measurement accuracy which is vital for our research. The skills and experience of ARA’s team have also been critical in the successful delivery of this project and give us confidence in the quality of our results.”     

The commissioning and testing of the dual stream jet propulsion rig was combined with high performance computational simulations to enable the development of a verified modelling methodology which can be used in advanced engine design studies. This methodology will be used to inform best practice in the design of installed UHBR nacelles with Adaptive Area Nozzle (AAN) technology to support an integrated technology demonstrator.

The joint project called AvAUNT (Adaptive Area nozzle for Ultra-high bypass Nacelle Technology) was a Clean Sky 21 project, with Rolls-Royce as Topic Manager. The aim was to experimentally and computationally evaluate the performance and installation effects of UHBR engines with different AAN concepts. The trend towards higher bypass ratios can lead to significant reductions in emissions and noise, however, the lowering of fan pressure ratios required by the increase in bypass ratio increases the risk of compatibility issues appearing in the engine fan system at specific operation regimes. Being able to vary the engine nozzle exit area and optimising it for each flight stage is a potential option for maximising fan performance and addressing the compatibility challenges derived from operating at low fan pressure ratios.

1 The Clean Sky programme is a private-public partnership jointly funded by the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry. Clean Sky aims to develop cleaner air transport technologies and support a strong and globally competitive aeronautical industry and supply chain in Europe.

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