Accelerating Aerospace Structural Testing

MTS aerospace product manager Dr. Christoph Leser discusses the many speed-enhancing features of MTS AeroPro™ 6.0 software.

Q: What challenge was this new software release designed to address?

Leser: Aerospace structural test labs face ever-increasing pressure to complete their testing as quickly as possible, so that manufacturers can get higher-performing models to market sooner. This poses considerable challenges for program managers who must weigh demands for faster testing applications with the need for quality results and test article safety.

In response, we developed version 6.0 of MTS AeroPro software, offering powerful new tools to accelerate testing while ensuring high data integrity. Our internal developers call this the ‘speed release,’ due to its unprecedented capabilities for improving structural test productivity.

Q: What specific software features support this speed increase?

Leser: First of all, AeroPro 6.0 carries forward all the useful features from prior releases, the most significant of which includes tightly integrated control and data acquisition functionality, which is capable of supporting 360 control channels and up to 10,000 data acquisition channels. Offering both these functions in a single user interface eliminates the need to support multiple software applications, and it allows the real-time display of synchronized control and data acquisition information, greatly improving productivity.

The release of AeroPro 6.0 software also marks the introduction of C3 Performance and Profile Segment Optimization (PSO) functionality, which adds two powerful test-accelerating utilities to the software’s already-robust control loop optimization toolset.

Q: How does each of these new utilities work?

Leser: Short for cross-coupling compensation, the C3 Performance utility is capable of dramatically accelerating complex structural testing without compromising accuracy or introducing additional strains on test articles.

In highly coupled actuation schemes, multiple actuators exert different forces on the same portion of a test article simultaneously. C3 Performance improves test efficiency and accuracy under such conditions, by fully compensating for the influences of all actuators present. C3 Performance also streamlines structural test setup by eliminating the need to input cross-coupling data manually, allowing the use of unit load cases to provide automated cross-coupling compensation coefficient generation.

We recently validated C3 Performance during a beta test with Cessna Aircraft Company. In one test involving a horizontal tail composed of 12 loading cylinders, Cessna was able to compare speed and accuracy levels with the same test conducted earlier using an MTS Aero-90 controller running MTS Aero-90 software. Cessna was able to run the test nearly twice as fast with the C3 Performance utility. Accuracy was also up 1.5 times, and reliability increased to 99%.

The second new utility for AeroPro 6.0 software, PSO, optimizes profile segment times by monitoring errors between command and feedback during transitions, and by adjusting transition times as needed to improve the next execution of the same profile. In addition to increasing test speeds wherever possible, PSO also decreases test speeds if necessary to remain within preset error limits, allowing tests to run unattended for longer periods of time.

PSO is an iterative process, so the more often a profile is run, the more streamlined its transition times will become. PSO also automatically adjusts profile times to correspond with any changes in test hardware.

Q: With which MTS control systems is AeroPro 6.0 software compatible?

Leser: The software can be used with a broad range of MTS controllers, including several models within our new FlexTest® controller family. AeroPro 6.0 is also compatible with our Aero ST™ and FlexTest GT control systems.

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