Airframe Load Tests
Although structural analysis methods are now highly sophisticated, it remains the case that deducing the behavior of a built-up airframe that contains multiple material types with a plethora of joints and attachments and subject to a wide range of forces is still far from simple. It is therefore useful to validate any structural analysis with a short program of experimental testing. Generally we limit these to static tests, measuring deflections and stresses, and vibration tests to establish wing/control surface structural dynamic behavior, and to see how engine and other sources of vibration may be transmitted to sensitive on-board equipment: it is particularly difficult to accurately predict the vibrational behavior using structural analysis methods. Where we can afford it, we also carry out destructive testing of key components to establish failure modes; we also do this to test aircraft after they have completed all the flying we wish to carry out so as to gain further data to support subsequent design activities.