Top 3 Upgrades for Your Jet Engine Test Cell in 2023

We estimate that 85% of Jet Engine Test Cell facilities in the U.S.A. are operating with outdated equipment and systems, which means inefficiencies, headaches, constant maintenance needs, unnecessary downtime, and even elevated safety risks.

If you are planning on upgrading your jet engine test cell this year, here are a few projects that you might want to consider:

1. Replace Aging Roll-Up Doors With a Hydraulic Door System

As we visit test cell sites across the country, we frequently come across roll-up doors that are too heavy and too outdated to function properly. This results in serious access control challenges and recurring maintenance problems that take away from testing time.

Common Problems With Roll-Up Doors:

    • Difficult to open and close
    • Gaps not fully closing at the bottom; broken seals
    • Only one method or access area to control the door
    • Repeated maintenance challenges and difficulty finding proper parts
    • Too heavy for comfortable use, especially with strong winds

Benefits of a Hydraulic Door System Upgrade:

    • Integrates with your new system and operates with hydraulics for a major improvement in ease-of-use
    • Lifts when opened and lowers when closing to provide a firm and proper seal
    • Controls can be placed in multiple places if needed (inside and outside the control room, for example)
    • Allows for remote-control operation
    • Added safety features
    • Meets sound level requirements

2. Upgrade the Turning Vane System for More Efficiency

Turning vanes tend to be an under-appreciated component of a jet engine test cell and they are often used well beyond their intended lifespan, which reduces their capability and efficiency over time. This can cause worker frustration and leads to workarounds that are dangerous to equipment and unsafe to personnel.

The Challenge With Outdated Turning Vanes:

    • Under-powered two-chain lifting systems can’t properly handle the weight
    • Gear boxes are often connected to a broken specialized motor that isn’t made anymore
    • Heavy, lead plates are used as counterweights
    • Motors and other components can only be reached by ladder
    • Requires a service catwalk for any repairs and upgrades

Benefits of a Hydraulic Turning Vane System Upgrade:

    • Can be retrofit with an existing primary stack and moveable vane so the whole system doesn’t have to be replaced
    • Hydraulic cylinders can handle 3 times the weight of a standard moveable vane
    • Has no counterweights, no motor, no drive, no sprockets, and no chains
    • Designed for all maintenance and updates to be on or near ground level, eliminating the need for a service catwalk
    • Works smoother with fewer maintenance issues and less downtime

3. Add a Real-Time Ice Detection Solution to Increase Cold-Weather Testing Days

Traditional ice detection methods are inaccurate, unpredictable, and can often lead cell operators to be overly conservative, which turns “maybe” days into “no testing” days. With a next-generation real-time ice-detection solution, estimates from real-world testing indicate that up to 75% of time lost due to cold weather concerns could be recouped.

Why the “Old Way” of Temperature Checks No Longer Works:

    • Operators are forced to rely on temperature charts and thermometers to guess if ice could be present
    • Freezing conditions due to pressure drops from air speed increases can go undetected
    • Icing variables include the humidity levels and pressure of water vapor in the air, which traditional systems cannot detect
    • Since all engine geometrics are different, their unique inlet conditions result in different icing limits

Benefits of the Ice Detection System by Integrated Icing Solutions:

    • The ice detection system directly measures ice formation and accretion rates, considering real time airflow rates associated with the engine inlet
    • The system continuously monitors for conditions that are dangerous and reports weather-related changes as they happen
    • Can be integrated with your test cell’s existing data acquisition system or work as a stand-alone
    • Sensors for detecting ice are located in the duct nozzle’s throat, providing more accurate readings
    • This method meets or exceeds engine inlet testing requirements

The right upgrades to your Jet Engine Test Cell can result in less maintenance, more uptime, improved safety, and improved efficiency across your testing operation. Swanda Aerospace can help you to prioritize your upgrades and get the most out of any maintenance or improvement project. Whether you plan on tackling one or all of these projects, Swanda Aerospace will be a great resource for you and your team.

Thank You