Gel packs that mimic biological soft tissue, with hard particulates inside to represent bone fragments, could replace dead birds in aerospace impact testing.

Currently dead birds are fired at aircraft structures to simulate bird strikes. The process is messy, smelly and unhygienic. Aerospace test engineers have to clean up the remains, which can be particularly unpleasant where helicopter cockpit window strikes have been repeatedly carried out. “Now, only real bird bodies are certified for testing. But we would like to move to the gel bodies, preferably in the next few years,” says GKN Aerospace technical director Philip Grainger.

GKN procures gel packs for some of its testing. Not all birds are the correct weight and sometimes bits of birds have to be attached to whole birds to ensure an aircraft structure is being struck by the legally specified mass. Another advantage the gel packs have is that they all come in the correct sizes.

Source: Flight International