ATA Engineering has developed flexible low cost methods to satisfy our customers’ flight testing needs. We are able to provide innovative solutions to acquire and process all types of flight testing data without requiring expensive software and hardware solutions.Each customer’s flight test program is different so we have the ability to quickly and efficiently develop custom software tools based on our IMAT toolkit for Matlab. We have several different data acquisition systems with proven track records available to suit different customer needs. In a recent flight test, ATA successfully acquired data on NASA’s WB-57 aircraft at elevations over 50,000 ft.
ATA has the ability to streamline the aircraft qualification process by developing models to predict in-flight behavior, perform ground vibration tests to verify these models, and collect flight data to certify the aircraft. Our ability to perform all of these services makes us uniquely qualified to streamline your entire test and analysis program. In addition to performing the entire analysis and test program on NASA’s WB-57, ATA has also been involved in flight tests for the NAVY and several small aircraft companies. ATA is also experienced in analyzing flight test data collected by our customers.
ATA also performs in-flight acoustic testing. Our experience includes recording microphone and acceleration measurements during flight to quantify noise paths and sources in the aircraft cabin, engine compartment, and other cavities. These measurements are key inputs for Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA) models that are used to rank noise paths and sources. The models are then used to evaluate noise reduction and interior design modifications to optimize the cabin noise reductions. Overall weights and noise levels are reduced as a result, saving money and increasing quality and passenger comfort.
Flight Testing Approach
While every flight test is different, ATA has developed a basic framework to approach flight testing. ATA first works with our customer to determine the primary objectives of the flight test program. Generally the goal is to measure a combination of acceleration, strain, and acoustic responses of the aircraft, though ATA is capable of making other measurements as well. ATA will build or review a finite element or SEA model as this can help in selecting appropriate locations to make measurements during the flight test program. Next ATA will deliver a detailed flight test plan to document our schedule and approach from instrumentation installation through final data delivery. We will work with our customer to make sure any schedule or logistical requirements are met.
After establishing a plan of action, ATA will send an engineer to work with our customer’s engineers and technicians to ensure the proper installation and integration of all of the required flight test hardware. After instrumentation installation is complete, ATA will team with customer engineers and flight personnel to conduct the flight test itself. ATA has developed methods which allow the near real-time data processing. By processing the data quickly and efficiently, ATA is able to make adjustments to the flight program while the aircraft is still airborne. The ability to review data and make informed decisions on the fly enables us to save our customers both time and money.
At the conclusion of the flight test, ATA compiles an extensive report documenting all aspects of the flight program. This report is delivered to the customer for their internal use as well as archived at ATA. ATA has found these reports to be a critical part of our engineering services as they have been used to answer questions about the test program months and even years after the test is completed. ATA is also experienced in presenting data in many usable formats. Not only do we provide flight test data in our IMAT format, we are also very flexible in creating data files to interface with our customers’ existing systems. This combination of detailed reports and careful data presentation sets ATA apart from our competitors.