Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR, Wichita, Kan., USA) reported on Feb. 18 that it is nearing completion of renovations of the former Britt Brown Arena at the Kansas Coliseum. The site will be known as the new Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center.
Laboratory and office space is expected to be move-in ready by by the end of the month, and erection of the lab’s first test structure has already begun. But the center has already received a unique and very large delivery: a 45,000-lb/20,412-kg, 15-ft/4.6m-tall MTS 500-kip axial torsion load frame.
With the assistance of the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, the massive piece of equipment was acquired from Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Okla., USA, when the base closed its structural integrity test facility.
"NIAR is a key part of keeping Wichita the ‘Air Capital of the World’—leading the world in aviation research, testing, and certification. Its work is vital, not only on civil and commercial aircraft, but also to address our military’s aging aircraft fleet," says Pompeo. "I was honored to help NIAR secure this surplus military equipment that will allow it to perform critical research that will ultimately make our nation’s aircraft safer and ￼more cost-efficient."
NIAR says the load frame’s uniqueness begins with its ability to handle up to 500,000 lb of axial force concurrently with 60,000 ft-lb of torque. Its active working region is approximately 8 ft/2.4m. It was custom-built in 1977 and is the only one of this type in existence. MTS has manufactured three additional 500-kip axial torsion load frames, but none are currently functional. The frame is capable of 5 inches/127 mm of displacement. It was designed to test landing gear for the Air Force’s KC-135 and B-1 bomber.
The load frame was installed in January with the assistance of Belger Cartage Service, a Kansas company that was also involved in the initial construction of Britt Brown Arena in 1977. It should be operational in next month.
Photos of the arrival and installation of the 500-kip load frame are available on Flickr. Additional information about the new Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center is available on the NIAR website.