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Lightning Testing for Aviation Standards Requirements: The Thermo Scientific Lightning Test System

Lightning Testing for Aviation Standards Requirements: The Thermo Scientific Lightning Test System

Airframe manufacturers, and manufacturers of related equipment such as flight instrumentation, must comply with stringent government and industry standards to ensure that airplanes can endure in-flight lightning strikes safely.

Much analysis has been conducted in order to characterize the manner in which lightning impinges upon metallic and composite airframes. It is now possible to accurately simulate lightning hits within a testing lab, for components and for entire airframes.

The testing standard was developed by RTCA (Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics), and the current revision is known as DO-160G; the portion applicable to lightning testing is Section 22. The standards are under continuing revision to account for changing manufacturing methods and materials, and improvements in understanding of weather phenomena.

The Thermo Scientific ECAT Lightning System (LTS) was developed to afford testing personnel safe, convenient means of testing to DO-160 with reliable, reproducible results.

This modular system comprises a caster-mounted mainframe, a computerized controller section, and removable modules that are specific to the various waveforms and single- or multi-stroke requirements called out in the testing standard. It is completely configurable to easily and rapidly test for pulsed EMI threats, including pre-compliance, production sampling, and final compliance. It tests both Metallic and Composite Aircraft to Level 5 (5A/5B), waveforms 1 through 6, and is easily expandable to meet Boeing, Airbus, EUROCAE, and other requirements.

The fully-automated system features fast test set-up, intuitive programming, built-in voltage and current monitoring, and front panel and remote computer control. On-site calibration and field service is available worldwide.

The available LTS Surge Network modules and associated equipment include:

* D111-1 Current Probe: measures current to 5kA; 0.1V/A; max rms current 65A with usable risetime from 20ns

* D301X Current Probe: Current measurements to 50kA; 0.01V/A ±1%; max rms current 400A with usable risetime from 200ns

* D561-L3: Waveform 5A to Lvl 3, note 1

* D561-L4: Waveform 5A to Level 4, note 1

* D561-L5: Waveform 1, 4, 5A to Level 5, note 1

* D562-L3: Waveform 2 to Lvl 3, note 1

* D562-L4: Waveform 2 to Level 4, note 1

* D562-L5: Waveform 2 to Lvl 5, note 1

* D563-L3: Waveform 3 to Level 3, note 2

* D563-L4: Waveform 3 to Level 4, note 2

* D563-L5: Waveform 3 to Lvl 5, note 2

* D564-L3: Waveform 5B to Level 3, note 1

* D564-L4: Waveform 5B to Level 4, note 1

* D564-L5: Waveform 5B to Level 5, note 1

* D566-L5: Waveforms 1 and 4 to Level 5, note 1

* D567-L3: Waveform 5A to Level 3

* D567-L4: Waveform 5A, Level 4

* D567-L5: Waveform 5A, Level 5, single-stroke capability

* D568 Current Waveform Module: Pin-Injected Transient Susceptibility testing to Boeing D6-16050-5 and equivalent Airbus standard; includes transformer

* D569: Waveform 6 to Level 5, multiburst requirements of DO-160, and Boeing and Airbus standards

* D570 Voltage Spike Module: Airbus ABD0100.1.8.1/DO160 section 17, single stroke, level 4

* D591 Powered Pin Coupler Module: ECAT-LTS

* D591-1 Power Decoupler: 0-400Hz, 0-244 VAC/20A, 0-285 VDC/10A

* DCHV-1 Cable Induction Coupler: Waveform 3

* DCI-1 Cable Induction Coupler: Waveforms 1, 5A, 5B

* DCV-1 Cable Induction Coupler: Waveforms 2 and 4

* DPI-1 Pin Injection Probe: Waveforms 1,2,4,5A,5B

* F-LTS-5 Lightning Test System Level 5 Frame: Mainframe/Controller

note 1: single and multiple stroke test

note 2: single-stroke, multiple-stroke and multi-burst test


Setup is quick – select the waveform and push a button. Intuitive front panel controls allow simple waveform, voltage and coupling selections. The modular construction allows for easy addition of new waveform modules. This system and components are available for purchase/rental from Avalon.

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