Aerospace vibration testing for all conditions

Jon Lawson

Element Materials Technology’s Warwick laboratory is one of the few UK test centres to house a high-displacement LDS V8 electrodynamic test system, enabling it to reproduce the extreme vibration conditions of an aircraft facing a fan blade out event.

Classed as a serious safety threat, a fan blade out event occurs when a foreign object - such as a bird - is caught by an aircraft’s engine, causing one of the rotor blades to detach.

The damage caused is so critical to the engine that it stops producing power, although the engine will continue to rotate due to the incoming airflow, an effect which is known as ‘windmilling’. This places high levels of stress on the aircraft’s flight systems and the ability of the systems to withstand these conditions must be validated through rigorous tests.

As such extreme conditions are usually outside the capabilities of normal test systems, Element invested in Brüel & Kjær’s LDS V8 electrodynamic test system to provide its customers with the certainty that their products would meet the most stringent testing standards.

The V8 is an air-cooled electrodynamic shaker for vibration and mechanical shock testing of large payloads up to 700 kg (1540 lb.). Its combination of large displacement and wide-duration shock pulses matches specific requirements for testing windmilling, making it ideal for Element to test this effect on components such as aircraft engines and fan blades.

Element has the largest capacity for aerospace EMC and environmental testing in the UK, investigating over a thousand aerospace products each year across six testing centers. The company works with aerospace businesses to support them through the complex nature of qualification testing of aerospace components and ensure they can deliver against airframe manufacturers’ imposed qualification milestones.