Propulsion Instrumentation Working Group visits Arnold AFB to view F404 engine stand

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon

Members of the Propulsion Instrumentation Working Group, or PIWG, visited Arnold Air Force Base in October to view the F404 turbofan engine test stand in the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Sea Level 1, or SL-1, engine test cell.

Working with PIWG, AEDC team members are supporting the Engine Life Extension and Health Monitoring (ELEHM) Program at the request of Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ). As part of the program, an F404 engine has been set up as a laboratory testbed and is accommodating external investigators supporting the ELEHM Program.

“PIWG is a consortium of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), government agencies, universities, and the sensor supplier base working to advance state-of-the-art turbine instrumentation,” said Tom Serbowicz, engineering specialist at Williams International and co-chair of PIWG. “This particular ELEHM effort is being funded by AFRL with Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) being the prime contractor.

“Use of the F404 engine as a sensor demonstration testbed within the ELEHM program is a great opportunity for many PIWG members to put our mission into action.”

According to the PIWG website, better measurements of component behavior and performance throughout the engine is an ongoing challenge, thus this working group was formed in 1995 to cooperatively address critical turbine engine development test instrumentation and sensor issues required for future gas turbine engine development programs. PIWG operates under a teaming agreement that was approved by all the domestic gas turbine engine OEMs. The teaming agreement allows the free flow of non-competitive information and thus better enables the OEM community, small businesses and government agencies to collectively work on funded sensor and measurement system activities.

“PIWG has been in existence for over 25 years and is the brainchild of NASA and the engine companies to bring together sensor vendors and OEMs, and it has since grown from there,” said Carol Ann Cash, PIWG Program Manager with OAI. “When we had a meeting here at AEDC five years ago, there was a need for a demonstrator engine, and that’s how the F404 testbed came about.”

In SL-1, the sensors will be evaluated in the higher temperature and pressure conditions of the F404 turbofan engine.

According to Dr. Robert Howard, subject matter expert for Instrumentation and Diagnostics, AFRL/RQ has enlisted the leadership team of the PIWG for technical evaluation of sensor technologies proposed by vendors for inclusion in this effort.

“AFRL contracted to OAI the coordination of vendor proposals and PIWG technical evaluations,” he said. “OAI will also subcontract to sensor vendors for their participation in the ELEHM Program. The AEDC leads for this activity serve as members of the ELEHM leadership team and are thus integral to sensor selection and sensor-to-engine installation needs.”

“AEDC has been an integral part of PIWG since its inception in 1995 and has supported several PIWG initiatives. The ELEHM program overall benefits PIWG, AEDC and the national defense mission. Hosting the fall meeting at AEDC allowed the members, many of which are test participants, a site visit to the SL-1 test facility without separate travel.”

Bernie Williamson, the Air Force project manager, said testing is currently scheduled for the first quarter in the calendar year 2021.