Once an engine has been repaired and overhauled, it is placed in a test cell to ensure that the output of the engine is correct before being passed to a final inspection team and sent to a customer. If the engine shows variances outside of the recommended OEM tolerances during the test, it is returned to the operations department and the issues corrected.
What is an engine test cell?
An engine test cell is a fully computerised and multifunctional facility, with the capability to test a number of different aerospace engine types/models. They are designed to check the power/torque and durability of the engines. They are essential to the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations of aviation engine facilities. They are designed to show any issues that a customer may experience without the necessary risk and troubleshoot these safely. Each test cell is fitted with an auto shut down feature and an operator manual override in case an engine parameter reaches damaging levels.
Using the latest in software and touchscreen technology, the operator of the test cell can efficiently monitor all the key engine parameters. Engine data is constantly stored and reviewed for real time analysis and assessment following engine repair. The test cell is calibrated, audited and cross correlated to a standard mother bed test cell to ensure compliance with the most stringent of aerospace regulations.
How is the engine tested?
An engine is tested by attaching it to the test cell exhaust and apparatus. The engine is connected to a dynometer to simulate the resistance of the propeller while engine is then run to a variety of differing levels of acceleration and power settings. Whilst these are taking place, the results are recorded automatically and monitored in real-time by the test cell operator. The data recorded is then compared to the engine model specific tolerances provided by the OEM, such as Compressor speed, Inner Turbine Temperature, Oil pressure and specific Fuel Flow.
What are the regulations involving the cell?
The regulations around the test cell are set in place by the OEM of the engines that are being tested. The company operating the test cell must have its instrumentation checked every 2 years for the PT6 engines. A test cell is checked against a “proven” manufacturer test cell for correct results. This give the test cell the phrase “certified test cell”