F-35 Lightning II test aircraft benefits from HBM equipment

BAE Systems is using HBM’s data acquisition equipment to validate the Flight Test Instrumentation (FTI) system on the F-35 Lightning II, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program with a unique approach.

Normally, testing the data acquisition system on modern military aircraft is a crucial task that is completed using the aircraft’s own FTI system. With the JSF build program, however, the actual aircraft data acquisition system is not installed until the aircraft is delivered to Fort Worth, Texas.

This means that BAE Systems at Samlesbury has to power-up and function- check all fitted transducers and associated aircraft wiring at the build stage. This approach ensures that they are confident that the whole system is functioning as designed on delivery of the individual aircraft sections (aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tails) for which they have responsibility.

Mike Revuke, Principal FTI Engineer on the build program explains: “by buying HBM’s MGCplus and catman®Professional software to capture and analyze the resulting data we are able to conduct all of the tests easily and accurately”.

The MGCplus and associated equipment is housed in a mobile trolley enabling the BAE Systems team to relocate to a different aircraft, quickly reducing the set-up and testing time.

By using the HBM equipment, BAE Systems is able to clearly demonstrate that all of the flight test instrumentation works as designed and issues a traceability report to ensure that all pre-shipping data can be subsequently checked if needed.

The equipment is being used to gather data from a wide range of transducers including strain gages, pressure transducers and accelerometers. After consulting with HBM, BAE Systems chose a system centered on 48 channels for strain gage input, 16 channels for accelerometer input and 8 thermocouple input. The HBM equipment supplied also included a PT100 input with eight channels for temperature input and 16 channels for voltage input. In addition, HBM has supplied on-site training and support.

Revuke notes: “we chose HBM’s equipment because it suited our requirement. The HBM equipment is fully configurable and can be reprogrammed at very short notice, it has a very powerful software package (catman®Professional) which allows us to analyze and export the data quickly and in various formats”.

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft comprises fully-equipped modular sections for assembly later at Fort Worth. All systems will be fitted and function tested before final assembly.

The initial system development and demonstration program covers 23 aircraft and the first of these aircraft sections has already passed its tests and been shipped to the USA where it is now well in to its flight test program. Over the next couple of years, the initial test batch of 23 aircraft will commence ground and flight evaluation as the F-35 Lightning II enters its production phase. The throughput of aircraft at Samlesbury will increase rapidly during production leading to a planned expansion of their facility.

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