NIAR chooses Sentinel 3 for lightning and HIRF testing

Sentinel 3 System vector

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University has chosen Sentinel 3 RF over fibre to support their environmental and electromagnetic testing on aircraft. NIAR’s Environmental & EME Test Labs perform testing such as Lightning Transient Analysis and HIRF testing. NIAR clients include, Boeing, Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, Beechcraft and Spirit Aerosystems.

National Institute for Aviation Research

The mission of the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) is to conduct research, transfer technology and enhance education for the purpose of advancing the nation’s aviation industry, and to assist non-aviation industries that may benefit from aviation-related technologies. Since 1985, NIAR at Wichita State University has delivered research, design, testing, certification and training to the aviation manufacturing industry, government agencies, educational entities and other clients. The institute has more than a dozen labs, including: Advanced Coatings, Aging Aircraft, CAD/CAM, Composites & Advanced Materials, Computational Mechanics, Crash Dynamics, Environmental Test, Full-Scale Structural Test, Mechanical Test, Metrology, Nondestructive Test, Research Machine Shop, Virtual Reality and the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel.

As a department of Wichita State University, NIAR operates on a non-profit budget that has steadily increased to more than $46 million in 2013. Located in Wichita, the “Air Capital of the World,” NIAR integrates business, government and university entities in cooperative efforts to advance aviation technology. NIAR has more than 400 employees from research scientists to student lab technicians.

Sentinel 3 System vector

Sentinel 3

Sentinel 3 is the world’s most advanced RF over fibre test and measurement systems for:

  • EMP test and EMC conformance
  • HIRF aircraft clearance
  • Simulated lightning testing
  • Impulse, time domain and NEMP testing
  • Low and high level swept frequency coupling measurements.

Sentinel 3 is designed to reduce setup time and maximise measurement certainty. A 3U chassis is available in desktop and rack-mount format and accepts up to six single or dual receiver modules allowing up to 12 channels from a single chassis. Super-low noise mode, high power mode and high impedance mode enable 145 dB/Hz of instantaneous dynamic range and increased sensitivity for lower test field strength and reduced ERP. Thermal compensation means calibrate only once for 0.25 dB accuracy. The touch-screen system controller enables easy control of functions such as gain, transmitter power up and system self-test.  The controller also supports USB and Ethernet interfaces, allowing a system also to be controlled from a PC. Ultra-compact Remote Transmitters are double-screened to maximise shielding effectiveness. The units have a volume of only 1.1 litres to support easier installation in tight spaces and interchangeably accept robust, weatherproof optical connectors and standard LC optical connectors (for a smaller size and reduced cable bend-radius). Units are available in either one or eight inputs with an integrated power detector for automatic power tracking. Single, dual and multi-link cross site cables simplify and minimise setup time and allow a single receiver to monitor up to 48 sensors (six transmitters, each with eight inputs) sequentially, or two sensors simultaneously (requires dual input receiver module).

About lightning and HIRF testing

Lightning transient analysis are intended to measure the actual transient levels induced into aircraft electrical wiring as a result of lightning attachment to an aircraft and ensure they do not exceed the wirings Transient Control Levels (TCL) according to standard ARP-5416A. Simulated lightning currents are injected into the aircraft and the resultant currents and voltages on the wiring inside the aircraft are recorded. The labs also conduct HIRF testing relating to the standard APR558:  Low-Level Swept Coupling (LLSC) testing measures the level of induced currents and voltages on system components as a result of radiated fields below 400 MHz. Low-Level Swept Field (LLSF) testing above 400 MHz is used to determine the transfer function relating the external field to the internal bay fields at the location of the equipment under evaluation.

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