So this time, I promise, is the last back to school blog update. It is incredible the amount of stuff that happens in the first few days back starting up a semester. In particular the moving and shaking that has gone on with our Afterburner project. The project, which last semester made progress at the pace of cavemen doing auto insurance, has now adopted a frantic feeling of ‘oh shit, we’re not even close to being done’. This is a slightly unwarranted notion. We are running short on time, however the competition at the Air Force Research Laboratory is not until May. Giving our team four whole months of time to make progress on our designs and it’s iterations. This should be plenty for some fine young Engineers produced by the Aerospace program at Purdue. Besides, with schools like Michigan and the Air force Academy, it should be a slam dunk for us.
So to the nitty gritty. Like I said our project got jump started by some universal sense of urgency. This included a trip to Honeywell in South Bend, where their fuel control design and landing gear testing divisions are located. For me this was the first time I’ve actually witnessed Aerospace Engineering outside the academic world. To be honest, it didn’t seem all that different, mainly the people at there seemed a whole bunch smarter than us. They gave us some great pointers about our project and revised our fuel system such that we don’t have to regulate pressure, which is very complex and expensive.
After the boring part of the meeting they took us on a tour of the facility, showing us the testing chambers used for the fuel control systems, of which they produce every control system on American fighter aircraft. One of the guys giving us a tour mentioned that when he went to work abroad, he still felt right at home with the set-up of the lab. After working at Purdue’s HPL last semester I know what he meant, upon entering the testing area’s I immediately recognized all the different types of fittings, pressure and temperature transducers. They are all small things but it gave me a feeling that I’ve at least learnt something for the past five years.
The fuel system test cells were cool and all, but after that the showed us where they test landing gear wheels and brake systems. They recently wrapped up testing of the Airbus A380’s landing gear. The video below is from their Rejected Takeoff test, where the brake is tested to it’s absolute maximum. We were shown the brakes for this guy, 6 pizza sized carbon disks, all an inch thick are pressed together when braking. In the test below, they reach excess of 2500 F, and not surprisingly catch fire, and melt all the metal components attached. Keep in mind the drum on the right, is 20 feet in diameter and about 6 feet wide of solid steel.
That’s all for now.