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Final Report Summary - AIM² (Advanced In-flight Measurement Techniques 2)

Flight testing new or modified aircraft is a necessary part of the design process and provides the final validation for the full-scale aircraft design. Flight-test certification is a critical phase because all the trials proving compliance with specifications and regulations must be completed in the shortest possible time, whilst maintaining high-quality standards in the certification process. Usually heavy instrumentation is installed to validate the predicted behaviour of the aircraft and also to detect unforeseen problems so that any modifications can be done quickly. Optical measurement techniques can minimise the installation work and reduce the testing time as they are able to capture a huge amount of parameters within a short time frame. The preceding project AIM – Advanced In-flight Measurement Techniques proved the principal feasibility of applying modern optical measurement techniques to flight testing. It presented possibilities of measuring wing and rotor deformation, surface pressure distribution, heat distribution and flow velocity fields in a non-intrusive way and with minimal sensor set-up. AIM also identified major challenges that had to be dealt with before these advanced optical measurement techniques could progress from the research and development stage and become state-of-the-art measurement techniques for industrial use. The follow-up project AIM² (Advanced In-flight Measurement Techniques 2) was launched in October 2010 with the intension of the further development of new powerful optical measurement techniques towards their routinely application to flight testing. In detail these measurement techniques are:

• Background Oriented Schlieren (BOS) method
• Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) method
• Image Pattern Correlation Technique (IPCT)
• Infrared Thermography (IRT)
• Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
• Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV)

AIM² focused on developing reliable and easy to use dedicated measurement systems and on defining design and application rules for these new in-flight measurement techniques. The prime objective was to enable aerospace industries to use such mobile measurement systems in future to reduce testing time and costs.

The AIM² project itself was structured in progressive steps starting with basic studies on challenges discovered in the preceding project, leading to optimised measurement systems to be tested under research conditions and finally to be proven in an industrial environment. To do these steps in an effective way the partnership of AIM² comprised four partners from aerospace industries, including one SME, three research organisations and three universities with expertise in optical measurement techniques, flight testing and training. As the project intended to work mainly on the improvement and adaptation to the special conditions of inflight testing of the measurement techniques the main workload of technical work was more on the side of research organisations than industries. However it has been taken care that the involved industrial partners were able to directly guide the development of the techniques towards the direction most suitable for cost effective industrial flight testing. In addition an assessment of the improved measurement techniques with respect to their applicability has been done. By means of a dedicated flight testing workshop and several publications, leading partners of the aeronautical industry being potential users of the developed measurement systems have been and in the future will be informed about the potential of the techniques.

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