BOEING IS refurbishing its 52-year-old transonic windtunnel as part of efforts to reduce development times for new models. The upgrade comes as Boeing's product-development work approaches recently unprecedented levels.

At the core of the windtunnel upgrade is a new drive system made by French manufacturer Cegelec. It includes a 41,000kW (55,000hp) variable-speed motor, weighing almost 150,000kg, and a 54MVa transformer. Wind speeds in the closed-loop tunnel will be around 370kt (690km/h).

The tunnel, which was first used to test the Boeing B-47 swept-wing jet-powered bomber, is being upgraded in two phases, with completion of the first stage due early in 1997. The first phase also involves improvements to the fan blades and stators, as well as the installation of a data-automation system.

Phase two, beginning later this year, will focus on improvements to the tunnel circuit to enhance airflow in the test section where the model is installed. Improvements include the installation of a new-technology main balance which measures forces on the model.

Boeing says that its other supersonic, hypersonic, subsonic and icing windunnels in Seattle and Philadelphia will remain operational during the upgrade.


Source: Flight International