Aerospace Altitude Chamber Control Systems Upgrade

July 18, 2023

Project Features:
Facilities and Equipment Integration, Altitude Chamber Control System, Control Panel Build, Turboshaft Engines Test

aerospace control systems for altitude chamber

The Challenge

Our client, a major aerospace engine OEM and component manufacturer, maintained a substantial cold altitude chamber that had served its purpose for several decades. However, the existing control systems, which had been in place since the initial installation of the altitude chamber, proved inadequate in meeting the heightened execution rates demanded by the testing protocols essential for current turboshaft engines test programs. In particular, the control system in the altitude chamber played a pivotal role, interfacing with various facility systems across the campus and exerting influence over critical operations. These aerospace control systems encompassed a wide array of functions, including overseeing the facility compressor, vacuum system, generation of hot and cold air, and meticulous management of all system variables required to uphold the stringent test conditions.

The Solution

ACS’ original scope encompassed a comprehensive range of tasks, including completing the customer-provided design with some materials supplied by the customer’s designated controls vendor. Additionally, ACS was tasked with procuring the remaining materials to finalize the control panel build, develop control software, integrate the existing data acquisition system, and modify the facility safety systems. The project also involved conducting factory acceptance testing, overseeing installation, performing site acceptance testing, and providing training.

However, as the design was initiated, it soon became evident that the initially specified hardware lacked the necessary execution rates to effectively control the multitude of variables essential for meeting the critical parameters of the test. This deficiency extended to the precise real-time control of over twenty valves, imperative for blending the hot and cold air to achieve the required transient engine inlet temperatures. Adequate control over cell pressure and various support systems was also deemed insufficient, highlighting the need for hardware reevaluation and modification.

Our scope significantly expanded to encompass the comprehensive redesign of the control system and software definition. This entailed an evaluation of the existing infrastructure and the identification of areas requiring improvement. In addition, ACS undertook the task of specifying new hardware selected to ensure it could effectively control all aerospace control systems parameters at the necessary rates. This approach ensured that the revamped system would seamlessly integrate with the existing setup while meeting the heightened demands of the aerospace industry’s stringent testing protocols.

The Outcome

The aerospace OEM client received a turnkey solution, complete with an experienced controls team, resulting in a notably expedited project timeline. With the aerospace controls system in place, not only was staffing minimized, but the project also saw improved safety measures, more precise control, and a reduction in testing duration, ensuring optimal efficiency throughout the process.

Key Features

  • Modern state-of-the-art aerospace control systems
  • Improved execution rates to effectively control the multitude of variables essential for meeting the critical parameters of the test
  • Intuitive software, reducing the number of test cell operators required

ACS Services

  • Controls design and programming
  • Phased turnkey project delivery including procurement of the remaining materials to finalize the control panel, build, and installation
  • Systems integration
  • Performed both Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) and Site Acceptance Testing (SAT)