Contract for the Heat Engine Systems Altitude Test Facility Symbolizes Progress

June 22, 2010

A computer generated illustration shows what the outside of the new VTD facility will look like upon completion. A computer generated illustration shows what the outside of the new VTD facility will look like upon completion.

As Base Realignment and Closure progresses, ARL's ability to initiate and develop future scientific discoveries grows stronger. As part of the BRAC legislation, a new facility for the Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD) is under construction at APG. Recently, a design-build contract for the Heat Engine Systems Altitude Test Facility was awarded and will serve as one of six major components in the VTD facility upon completion.

The contract for the HESATF was awarded this past May 4. The groundbreaking for the VTD building took place Sept. 3, 2009 and has since been under construction.

The HESATF will have multi-component capability consisting of an altitude engine test chamber and equipment necessary to supply air to the chamber, create altitude conditions and remove exhaust. There will also be systems in place to simulate air craft power loads and rotor blades for helicopters.

According to Gary Klann, who works for VTD at NASA Glenn, creating the necessary simulated flight conditions in this facility requires the use of specialized air handling systems that provide exact dryness levels, pressures and temperatures.

The contract will include a computerized facility control and monitoring system where everything will be operated locally from an adjacent reinforced control room located within the facility, Klann noted. "The bottom line is that the engines and propulsion systems operated in this facility will 'think' they are operating under actual flight environments."

When the VTD construction is complete, the building will house five other major laboratories specializing in flow physics, integrity and durability, mechanical components, high temperature and universal drive. The new HESATF will be located within the Engine Components and Engine Systems laboratory.

The contract for the HESATF further enhances ARL's ability to continually research, develop, test and evaluate across multiple disciplines including propulsion, structure, aeroelasticity, and autonomous control of air and ground vehicle systems.

VTD Director Dr. Mark Nixon said the overall facility at APG will be a cost saving measure and greatly augment the mission of the directorate.

"The Propulsion Systems Lab at NASA Glenn provides the Army's only access to ground-based test facility capable of true flight simulation for experimental research on air-breathing propulsion systems," he said. "The new facility at APG will have similar capabilities to that of the PSL, but will be tailored to smaller engines and will be more cost effective for both basic and applied research in this technical area."

The new VTD facility is expected to be completed by May 2011.


Last Update / Reviewed: June 22, 2010