Excellence, ingenuity, and hard work. These are just some of the traits for which the National Research Council of Canada's icing researchers and the MDS AeroTest team were honoured in November 2017 with Manitoba Aerospace's All-Star Award in the Technology Development category for their work at the state-of-the-art Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research (GLACIER) in Thompson, Manitoba. The All-Star awards recognize excellence and achievements within Manitoba's aerospace community, while the Technology Development Award recognizes the hard work, ingenuity and resolve of the two teams, a collaboration that has given the test facility a perfect track record of not missing a certification icing test completion in six years of operation.
Since GLACIER opened in 2010, the NRC icing and MDS AeroTest teams have delivered complicated, one-of-a-kind, large-scale aircraft engine test programs for two of the world's leading engine manufacturers, Rolls-Royce Canada and Pratt & Whitney Canada, the joint owners of the facility. Under tight scrutiny and demanding cold weather conditions, they have defined and implemented technology improvements so that GLACIER could be operated to meet the most rigorous manufacturer and regulatory requirements for icing, endurance and emissions testing of advanced medium and large commercial aircraft engines. Eleven engine test programs have been completed at the facility; these tests were critical to the certification of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB series of engines and the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines.
What is GLACIER?
GLACIER is one of the world's largest open-air, ground-level aircraft engine icing test facilities. Its high latitude naturally provides sub-arctic temperatures that are ideal for icing research 250 days of the year.
The key component of the facility is the NRC-designed, built, maintained and operated spray mast system that sprays supercooled water mist into test engines. This advanced icing cloud simulation system recreates a variety of conditions that are known to cause in-flight engine icing, a serious safety challenge that can happen when high-altitude moisture poses the threat of ice buildup. Although aircraft engines are designed to shed ice safely, they must be tested to demonstrate performance and compliance with airworthiness regulations. GLACIER supports this testing on some of the world's largest gas turbine engines.
"Congratulations to the NRC and MDS teams. The NRC's engine icing research started decades ago at our gas turbine labs in Ottawa," said Jerzy Komorowski, Director General of the NRC's Aerospace Research Centre. "This longstanding work has given us a deeper knowledge of aircraft and engine icing processes, and our ongoing collaboration with MDS AeroTest at GLACIER has expanded this knowledge further. The research and testing we conduct will help manufacturers meet more stringent safety certifications, while helping regulatory agencies ensure safer flight for all air travellers."