The launch of the UK Aerodynamics Centre in April 2012 by the UK Government provided funding to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in the aerospace industry. As the operator of the largest Transonic Wind Tunnel in the UK, Aircraft Research Association (ARA), based in Bedford, has been one of the companies to benefit from this funding.
Since its launch, the future of the Aerodynamics Centre has been secured for the next seven years following the announcement of the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). Aerodynamics is one of the four ‘pillars’ of the ATI, along with structures, propulsion and systems, and it’s formation will ensure that research in aerospace will continue to be a major area of investment in the UK.
Since 2012 there has seen a phased upgrade to the Transonic Wind Tunnel facility, culminating in the installation of a new DC drive motor in February this year, the installation of five new machines in the workshop and acquisition of increased high performance computing capacity for the Computational Aerodynamics department.
ARA has completed the initial wind tunnel tests of the new gust generation rig, cavity rig and hybrid laminar flow control test rig, which have been developed since 2012. Although there will be further development for some of the capabilities, these programmes have already delivered new optical measurement systems such as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and dynamic and fast-response Pressure-Sensitive Paint.
With the continued investment in these facilities and technologies ARA maintains it's position at the forefront of the UK Aerospace industry's research and development capabilities.