Current methods for obtaining pressure profiles on airfoils require complex pressure-scanner setups, which are expensive, very time-consuming, have multiple points of potential failure, and physically change the structure/loading on a test airfoil, especially in the case of smaller airfoils. This severely reduces the frequency at which such testing can be done, and the number of airfoils on which such testing can be practically performed.
To address these issues, IEM proposes the Low Profile Aerodynamic Testing Tape (LPATT) derived from and building upon millions of dollars in miniature wireless sensor research and patented and patent-pending technology and innovations. LPATT will be an ultra-thin, easily applied pressure and temperature wireless sensor node (other sensing parameters possible) that can be applied in any location with minimal time and effort and NO modifications to the airframe of any kind, with minimal impact on airstream passage. LPATT will match or exceed current-technology measurement accuracy, be self-powered, will store all information onboard and be capable of either real-time transmission of data or of transmitting the data later on demand, and may be designed with 50 or more pressure sensors with high sampling rates. Data interface between LPATT will be accomplished using a Data Collection Interface System (DCIS) to collect, process, and transmit data to outside systems.
The use of LPATT will drastically reduce the cost and time involved in wind-tunnel and flight test pressure sensing trials and may offer direct benefits in other areas such as providing the data for operation of performance adaptive aeroelastic wing shape controls in future aircraft designs. IEM will work with Dr. Michael Amitay of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who will provide access to and expertise with a functional laboratory wind tunnel for tests and demonstrations of LPATT prototypes.
It is expected that with the head-start from related projects such as ISStrips IEM will be able to take LPATT to a TRL of 4-5 in Phase I and a TRL of 7 in Phase II. NASA customers for the completed LPATT include Ames, Langley, Glenn, and other installations with aerodynamic research and development that include significant wind tunnel operations and possibly flight testing, where a great deal of time and effort can be saved in the installation and operation of pressure profiling equipment.
Commercial and military aircraft developers and manufacturers represent a larger market, and one that stands to save a huge amount of time and money from such a system. According to Mark Goldhammer, a former Chief Engineer at Boeing’s commercial aircraft division, preparations for large-scale wind tunnel tests using standard pressure scanners cost in the range of one million dollars per test, due to the time and effort of installing the pressure measurement system.