A mobile in-theatre maintenance facility for helicopter engines will be unveiled later this month at Aerospace Testing Expo 2004 in Hamburg, Germany by Winchester, UK-based Industrial Acoustics Company Aviation. It will be demonstrated at the show from 30 March to 1 April.

The Mobile Test Facility (MTF) allows the kind of testing equipment that was previously kept in a maintenance depot to be taken to the battlefield. It is a trailer-sized wheeled cabin for the digital interrogation of the running engine set up on its test stand.

The cabin, to be used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, will test the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engine used in the AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin. Tests range from flight idle speed to full power.

The company's product manager, Patrick Fourcampre-Maye, says the wheeled cabin is a major improvement over the modular mobile testing equipment that UK forces have, but have never used "because it would take several months to set up. It was time consuming and expensive and had to be moved to a pre-prepared site. Our MTF doesn't."

The MTF has its own onboard power generation and an air-conditioned control room with a bullet-resistant window. The cabin's computers can access black box event logs and measure all the engine performance parameters that can be found on a flightdeck. The MTF's computer screens represent analogue style gauges and dials.

The RAF and RN have already received two MTF units. They both arrived at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire last year and took four to five months to commission. The navy's cabin arrived in early January at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. It will be used to test the RTM322 Mark 100 engine. The RAF's MTF, which is to be based at RAF Benson, was handed over on Tuesday 9 March. The service will use it to test the RTM322-200 engine.

The cabin has a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare variant, but neither the RAF or RN's units have this capability. The MTF would be flown to a battlefield theatre by a Boeing C-17 transport aircraft and transferred to a low-loading trailer or a vehicle fitted with a standard NATO tow bar, which could take the cabin to its final battlefield location.


Source: Flight International