This summer will see the official opening of a joint new Airbus/Air France Industries engine test site, also known as the engine run-up facility, which is used to validate the performance of aircraft engines once they have been integrated on Airbus aircraft. The open-air complex is situated at the AÃ©roconstellation industrial complex in Toulouse, France.
When an aircraft is positioned in the facility, its engines can be run to full thrust, allowing technicians to monitor the powerplants' performance and to check if there are any problems, such as leakage or excessive vibration. The site incorporates the latest technological advances to ensure noise is kept from disturbing surrounding residents.
There are two main considerations in developing and operating such an engine test complex: aerolic and acoustic analyses. Aerolic tests measure wind direction and speed. In order to effectively test aircraft engines inside the circular-shaped facility, there has to be a sufficient quantity and flow of air into it to "feed" the engines. Positioning the aircraft within the complex to take maximum advantage of the flow of air into the building is of prime importance. As wind direction varies on a daily - or even hourly - basis, the facility's ground surface has been clearly marked to guide technicians in the optimum placement of an aircraft.
The acoustic analyses look at how noise escapes from the facility and could affect the surrounding neighbourhood. Microphones were placed in the vicinity to measure both the noise levels and the spread of noise, and engine run-ups were undertaken in all weather conditions - as cloudy conditions could affect the way sound is dispersed. Specially-designed deflector panels placed on the interior walls of the site inhibit up the spread of noise from its lowest to highest frequencies.
Construction of the engine run-up facility started in 2004 and was completed at the beginning of 2006. An exhaustive test programme was carried out prior to the opening, with an A340-600 aircraft tested in the building in September 2005 and an A380 in February this year.