ATI funds research enabling better passenger journeys

Posted on 15 May 2015 by The Manufacturer

The ATI has funded a £9m project that enables research improving aircraft design and even possibly the ways that plane journeys can be made smoother.

Turbulance’s effect on aircraft passengers may become a thing of the past, according to the Aircraft Research Association (ARA).

Dougie Hunter, the chief executive of ARA explained: “We’ve used the funding to build a gust generating mechanism inside our large high speed wind tunnel to help us understand gusts of air and their impact on the aircraft.

“Once we develop a clear understanding about how an air gust interacts with an aircraft we can think about modifying airplanes to improve the design and reduce the jolts.”

Once the ARA knows more about the impacts of the gust, it will look at the effects on the aeroplane’s current safety features and suggest improvements accordingly.

Since ARA’s began in 1956, the Experimental Aerodynamics department has provided wind tunnel data for global civil and military aerospace. The organisation also produces models for testing in low-speed, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels in Europe, America and Asia and the two largest cryogenic facilities in the world, the European Transonic Wind Tunnel (ETW) in Germany, and the NASA National Transonic Facility (NTF) in America.

Along with experimentation, ARA can also develop computational aerodynamic computer codes and analyse aeroplane designs.

The research aims to produce a rig to look at the magnitudes of the gusts of air the aeroplane experiences and analyse the most appropriate way to adjust the structure to minimise their effect. Once the organisation knows more about the impacts of the gust, it will look at the effects on the aeroplane’s current safety features and suggest ways to adjust them accordingly.

Ultimately, it will be able to suggest design changes to reduce the effect experienced by the passengers when an aircraft is hit by a gust of air

The Bombardier Aerospace CS100 aircraft.
If aircraft can be made lighter, they have the capability to become more efficient, which is better for the environment.

Hunter is confident the project has a bright future, commenting: “If we can make the aeroplane lighter we have the capability to make it more efficient which is better for the environment. It’s complex and difficult to do, and most companies wouldn’t have the money for such a project. The funding made the project possible and the result is the only facility of its type in the world.”

The project was run on a large scale with 150 people involved, with 60% of the funding spent outside of ARA in the UK supply chain with more than 100 different suppliers involved. ARA has also spent upwards of 40,000 man hours delivering the project.

Gary Elliott, CEO of the ATI added: “The ATI is proud to be backing such an important project. This demonstrates how we are using our understanding of global challenges in aerospace to best inform the strategic direction for future research and development.

“We are committed to making the UK the go-to place for better, more innovative aerospace products and services. Projects like this one by ARA will enable us to develop the best technologies for tomorrow and help UK aerospace to maintain its competitive edge.”