SEA LEVEL TEST CELLS

This Pratt & Whitney F100 engine, the powerplant for the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, underwent sea level testing in Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Propulsion Development Test Cell SL-2 in 2003. (AEDC photo)

This Pratt & Whitney F100 engine, the powerplant for the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, underwent sea level testing in Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Propulsion Development Test Cell SL-2 in 2003. (AEDC photo)


Sea-Level Test Cells SL-2 and SL-3, test cells in the Engine Test Facility, provide the capability to economically conduct durability testing on large augmented turbine engines at near sea-level conditions (1,000 foot altitude) by eliminating the cost of running inlet and exhaust plant machinery.

The cells are approximately 24 feet in height and width and 60 feet in length.  In addition to running ambient pressure inlet conditions, they also provide the capability of using the ETF plant to run ram conditions (inlet pressures above ambient), allowing testing at up to Mach 1.2 to achieve test objectives.  Inlet temperature capability extends from ambient to 120 degree Fahrenheit when running in the atmospheric inlet mode and from 20 to 270 degrees Fahrenheit in ram mode.  Both cells can accommodate engines that prodcue up to 70,000 pounds of thrust.

Sea-Level Cells are normally used for Accelerated Mission Testing.  The tests evaluate engine durability and performance retention by repeatedly simulating the type of missions the engine will fly in service.  The ram capability allows the interspersed testing of atmospheric inlet and ram AMT during a single test program and eliminates the expense of engine removal and installation into another facility.  By testing with a single engine installation, the customer receives a more accurate representation of engine use and saves time and money.

Since atmospheric inlet testing in SL-2 or SL-3 does not require the plant machinery, test scheduling becomes very flexible, allowing rapid completion of test objectives.  Either cell can accomplish up to 80 hours of atmospheric inlet testing per week sustained capability, with higher surge capability.

Support systems in both cells include state-of-the-art digital steady-state and transient data acquisition systems capable of recording up to 1,500 parameters in SL-2 and 2,200 parameters in SL-3.  Calibrated bellmouths and multileg fuel systems allow both test cells to make accurate measurements of engine airflow and fuel flow over the full range of engine operation.  Both cells are equipped with axial thrust stands allowing for accurate thrust measurement.  Additionally, SL-3 is equipped to perform specialized testing such as corrosion testing.

In recent years, SL-2 has tested the F100 engine for the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F119 engine for the F-22A Raptor.  SL-3 has also tested the F100 engine, as well as the F135 engine for the F-35.