A Vision for the Future of Aeronautical Ground Testing
ARNOLD ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT CENTER ARNOLD AFS TN
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Ground-based infrastructure consisting of wind tunnels and propulsion system test cells has been the predominant tool for the development of aeronautical systems since the Wright Brothers. With advances in modeling and simulation, as well as a reduced tempo for developing new major flight systems, it is reasonable to ask whether these aeronautical ground-test facilities will be needed in the future. The authors project that for the foreseeable future aeronautical systems, although more advanced than today, will still be the major mode for domestic and global transportation as well as for the transport of materiel and delivery of kinetic and nonkinetic effects for the military. Ground- and flight-test facilities will remain the primary sources of information on performance, operability, and durability for the development and sustainment of aeronautical systems. A transformation in the design and use of aeronautical ground-test facilities will be required to maintain their viability as tools in the development of future applications. Through a confluence of design of experiments application, as well as advances in modeling and simulation, data systems, test techniques, flow diagnostics, and networking, there are emerging concepts that can dramatically reduce the overall cycle time for development of aeronautical systems. This article highlights these emerging technologies and creates a vision of how ground-test facilities can be used in the future to dramatically reduce development cycle time. The considerations that need to be addressed in the design of a future wind tunnel to optimize development cycle time are also explored.
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