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Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) has completed renovations of the former Britt Brown Arena at the Kansas Coliseum grounds in Park City, Kan. The new site is known as the Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center.
NIAR’s Full-Scale Structural Test Lab has begun fatigue testing for the facility’s first client, and the facility has received a unique and very large delivery: a 45,000-pound, 15-foot-tall MTS 500-kip axial torsion load frame. With the assistance of the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, the massive piece of equipment was acquired from Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City when the base closed its structural integrity test facility.The load frame begins with its ability to handle up to 500,000 pounds of axial force concurrently with 60,000 ft-pounds of torque. Its active working region is approximately eight feet. It was custom-built in 1977 and is the only one of this type in existence. MTS has manufactured three additional 500-kip axial torsion load frames but none are currently functional. The frame is capable of fives inches of displacement. It was designed to test landing gear for the Air Force’s KC-135 and B-1 bomber. The first client test on the 500-kip load frame will begin this month.New fixture designed to test large fuselage panelsNIAR’s Full-Scale Structural Test Lab has also completed the development and installation of a 25 x 8 x 10-foot Pressure, Axial and Sheer Combined (PASCOM) fixture for testing various sizes of large curved fuselage panels up to approximately 96 x 54 inches.The PASCOM fixture is undergoing modifications to accommodate its first client test. It was built and is currently housed in NIAR’s lab at Beechcraft, but will eventually move to the new Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center.The fixture was sponsored using funds from the Kansas Aviation Research and Technology Growth Initiative, initiated in 2011 to enable economic growth within the aviation industry sector of Kansas. Funds for the program are administered through the Kansas Department of Commerce, and research programs are chosen by representatives from Boeing, Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, Beechcraft and Spirit AeroSystems. Projects are carried out by university researchers. Each selected research project must be individually matched 1:1 in funding dollars from industry, university and/or philanthropy. About NIARNIAR supports the aviation industry by providing research, development, testing, certification and training services. Its laboratories include Advanced Coatings, Aging Aircraft, CAD/CAM, Composites & Advanced Materials, Computational Mechanics, Crash Dynamics, Environmental Test, Full-Scale Structural Test, Mechanical Test, Metrology, Nondestructive Test, Research Machine Shop, Virtual Reality and the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel. NIAR operates on a nonprofit budget and is the largest university aviation R&D institution in the U.S., located in Wichita, Kan., the “Air Capital of the World.”More information: www.niar.wichita.edu