Customer-focused problem-solving earns Tunnel 9 team recognition
By Bradley Hicks, AEDC/PA
/ Published January 21, 2020
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- A test team at Arnold Engineering Development Complex Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland, was recently commended for recognizing the need for a crucial test article component and facilitating its fabrication to ensure the customer’s test could be completed without delay.
Cameron Butcher, John Lafferty and Alex Ratushny, Air Force personnel at Tunnel 9, and Dan Lewis, Bernie Kefauver, Will Vodra, Charlie Carlson and Bill Betz, employees of National Aerospace Solutions, LLC, the Test Operations and Sustainment contractor for AEDC, were recognized for providing outstanding customer satisfaction.
According to Tunnel 9 Deputy Director Joe Coblish, the current test customer realized upon arrival at the White Oak facility, just days before the start of testing, that a critical component of their test article geometry was missed when they transferred the final external test article dimensions to their model vendor.
The customer’s initial reaction was to not delay the start of the test, opting to instead proceed as planned and make a computational fluid dynamics correction in their post-test analysis.
“Our team’s assessment was that the missing geometry would have a significant impact on the dataset and advised against that approach,” said Tunnel 9 Technical Director John Lafferty.
While the Tunnel 9 team determined the component would be needed to ensure the highest data quality possible, it was also realized the customer would be unable to get a contract in place to make the part quickly.
To prevent lost test time, the Tunnel 9 team proposed the in-house design and fabrication of a suitable replacement of the missing component.
“Our team was able to design, fabricate and install the necessary part without delaying the start of the test,” said NAS Tunnel 9 Branch Manager Greg Fox.
This work, along with the original assessment that the component was necessary, earned the Tunnel 9 team its recent recognition.
“The customer and sponsor were extremely happy that we made this happen, and we want to acknowledge the successful Combined Test Force team efforts,” said White Oak Air Force Site Director Dan Marren.