Don Nolan-Proxmire Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1983) Lori Rachul Lewis Research Center, Cleveland

, OH (Phone: 216/433-8806) RELEASE: 95-197

November 1, 1995

TESTS MAY PROVIDE INSIGHT ON SEVERE WEATHER EFFECTS ON AIRCRAFT NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, has simulated severe weather conditions in a wind tunnel -rain, ice and lightning--and the tests may lead to improved flight safety. Severe weather tests were conducted in the Icing Research Tunnel (IRT) at Lewis for the Joint Program on Improvement of Lightning and Static Protection of Radomes, led by a consortium of government agencies and commercial companies in the U.S. and Europe. Aircraft nose radomes, the fiberglass shell that forms the housing for radar equipment, are susceptible to damage from lightning strikes because they are constructed from non-electrically conducting materials. Without adequate protection, the radome is vulnerable to being punctured or shattered by a lightning strike, which could damage the weather radar. To minimize the possibility of damage, radomes are usually fitted with an arrangement of solid metal bars, called diverters, that intercept lightning strikes and conduct them safely to the airframe. Although these diverters provide adequate protection, they sometimes interfere with radar performance. Tests in the IRT were conducted on a newer protection device, called segmented diverters, which are designed not to interfere with radar performance. Simulated lightning tests were conducted to verify the effectiveness of the segmented diverters in rain and/or icing conditions. This was the first time that lightning tests have been

applied to an aircraft component in a wind tunnel in combination with severe weather conditions. The tests in NASA's IRT simulated the typical in-flight environmental conditions that occur at the altitudes and temperatures where most lightning strikes to airplanes have occurred. -more-2The IRT underwent minor modifications to accommodate a 500 kilovolt (kV) Marx-type lightning generator which was positioned outside the tunnel. The generator produced high voltage impulses reaching a peak amplitude of 500 to 750 kV for times ranging from 1 to 20 microseconds. The voltage test was simulated in the tunnel via a porcelain insulated feed through a bushing installed in the tunnel floor. The simulated lightning strike was applied from an electrode attached to the bushing and positioned adjacent to the radome being tested in the tunnel. Over 80 lightning strikes were applied to radomes typical of the radomes currently in use on general aviation, regional and large transport aircraft. Prime contractor to the consortium is AEA Technology in the UK. Major subcontractors are DGA/CEAT in Toulouse, France and Lightning Technologies, Inc., in Pittsfield, MA, who provided the lightning simulation equipment for the tunnel tests. -endEDITOR'S NOTE: Images accompanying this release are available to news media representatives by calling the Headquarters Imaging Branch at 202/358-1900. NASA Photo Numbers are: Color B&W Lightning Protection Device 95-HC-642 95-H-655 Transport Radome 95-HC-643 95-H-656 NASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to In the body of the message (not the

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