Impact Assessment on Safety Structures & Aircraft Components


Contact Information

Scott A. Mullin
Program Manager
Ballistics & Explosives Engineering
(210) 522-2340
smullin@swri.org

James T. Mathis
Principal Engineer
Ballistics & Explosives Engineering
(210) 522-2084
jtmathis@swri.org

image: 65-lb fragment-simulating projectile about to impact Lexan shield design

65-lb fragment-simulating projectile about to impact Lexan shield design

 

image: One-third of a jet engine compressor packed in a sabot for launching. Complex sabots are often 
					needed to launch irregularly shaped projectiles.

One-third of a jet engine compressor packed in a sabot for launching. Complex sabots are often needed to launch irregularly shaped projectiles.

 

image: Civil aircraft fuselage undergoing temperature-controlled bird strike testing. The insulated hood, 
					hanging from the crane, covers the fuselage for cooling or heating to the desired test temperature and is raised moments 
					before the projectile is fired at the target.

Civil aircraft fuselage undergoing temperature-controlled bird strike testing. The insulated hood, hanging from the crane, covers the fuselage for cooling or heating to the desired test temperature and is raised moments before the projectile is fired at the target.

A wide variety of safety-related impact tests for many applications, projectiles, and test specimens are conducted at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), including:

  • Aircraft components
  • Bird impact resistance
  • Engine failure fragments
  • Foreign object damage
  • Structural components
  • Shielding components

SwRI maintains three ballistic gun systems that launch a large variety of projectile types and shapes at speeds from 10 ft/s to over 2000 ft/s.

The Large Compressed Gas Gun Facility is capable of performing bird impacts from 240-knot commercial aircraft FAA certification to 550+ knot Air Force canopy qualification testing. Projectiles, test specimens, and sabots are often designed, constructed, and tested at SwRI to meet the specific requirements of clients.

A large suite of state-of-the-art instrumentation and computer simulation codes support the experimental facilities.

Impact Assessment Capabilities

  • Launch of projectiles from 0.1 to 15 inches in diameter (larger if required)
  • Impact speeds from 10 ft/s to more than 2000 ft/s
  • High-speed digital imaging of impacts up to 100,000,000 frames per second
  • Nicolet Multipro© high-speed data acquisition up to 200 MHz
  • Test fixture fabrication
  • SwRI ISO-compliant QA
  • Computer impact simulation
  • Temperature control from -50°F to 150°F
  • Gelatin and bird projectile testing
  • Sabot design

Impact Assessment Experience

  • FAA bird strike certification testing at 240–280 knots
  • Air Force bird strike qualification testing at 240–550 knots
  • Engine containment shield tests with irregularly shaped projectiles
  • Pressure measurements at impact point; correlation to simulations
  • Impacts into space shuttle tiles with lightweight foam projectiles
  • Impacts into personal protection shields, simulated plant equipment
  • Shield and airframe design for impact survivability

Impact Assessment Facilities

  • Ballistics ranges with three compressed gas guns and more than 20 barrels
  • Three fully equipped instrumentation suites (one mobile)
  • Target area for large components
  • Mobile gun platform for easy targeting
  • Yaw
  • Pitch
  • Waterline
  • Buttline
Image: F16 canopy

F16 canopy deflecting under impact by a 4-lb projectile at 550 knots

Ballistics and Explosives Range

SwRI operates and maintains the Ballistics and Explosives Range on the San Antonio campus. This 10-acre facility permits a wide variety of experimental programs to be conducted, including:

  • Explosive loading
  • Hazards evaluation and mitigation
  • Foreign object damage
  • Ballistic impact
  • Armor testing
  • Hypervelocity impact

SwRI technicians provide expert support for handling explosives, firing gas and powder guns, and collecting high-rate electronic data. A complement of equipment, including an on-site machine shop, digital data acquisition and transient recorders, high-speed imaging equipment, and data processors, supports range activities.

Related Terminology

impact assessment  •  safety structures  •  aircraft components  •  bird-strike resistance  •  compressor failure  •  safety shielding  •  shrapnel aircraft impact survivability  •  compressed gas guns  •  FAA FAR 25.775  •  ASTM F330  •  foreign object damage  •  FOD  •  engine fragment containment  •  containment rings  •  canopy testing  •  aircraft leading  •  edge testing  •  impact survivability  •  homeland security

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.
04/15/14