Kistler supplies Airbus’ Zephyr with measurement technology for ground and flight testing

For a revolutionary aerospace development project at Airbus, Kistler supplies two high-precision accelerometers which deliver key data for aerial vehicle design. The very small and lightweight sensors – one of them capable of operating under stratospheric pressure and temperature conditions – pave the way for further enhancement of the Zephyr platform.

High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) are a missing link in a global infrastructure that is meant to provide advanced connectivity and observation capabilities everywhere on earth. Unlike traditional aircraft and common Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), HAPS are designed to operate in the stratosphere for months at a time. One of the most advanced HAPS in the world is the Airbus Zephyr – named after an ancient Greek God of wind – it holds the world record for the longest stratospheric flight: 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes.

With its two core functions, earth observation and connectivity, Zephyr - who's production facilities are located in Farnborough (UK) where it was originally invented – has what it takes to revolutionize global markets and communication. 3.8bn people are still unconnected from the internet, with many remote areas having insufficient infrastructure and power stability. One day, Zephyr will offer them direct to device, low latency connectivity that is reliable and seamless. Regarding earth observation, Zephyr offers a complementary solution between aircraft, UAS and satellite, as it is able to deliver high resolution, near real-time imagery and video services, 24/7 surveillance and has the flexibility of being able to be re-tasked. But which technologies play a part here to make all this possible?

Small and lightweight sensor design with full precision

Zephyr is an ultra-light weight, solar-electric HAPS with a wingspan of 25 meters and a weight of less than 75 kg. Powered by solar energy, it serves as a persistent platform – expected to stay for months at a height of 70,000 feet where pressure and temperature are more akin to space than ground conditions. Zephyr's developments go through state-of-the-art testing procedures to validate its safe operation in the stratosphere. For ground and flight testing purposes, Airbus relies on accelerometers from Kistler with small and light-weight measuring chains.

While ground testing ensures functionality and quality standards to approve sub-system design prior to flight, flight testing enables the acquisition of in-flight data to validate operational top-level requirements.

We are using Kistler accelerometers and data acquisition equipment on ground testing of our propulsion systems for requirements validation. During flight we are using a slightly different Kistler instrument for dynamic data acquisition as part of our flight test instrumentation system.”

Diogo Sousa, Lead Propulsion Engineer for Airbus Zephyr

 

Full operational functionality confirmed after extreme cold storage

Both solutions are based on an 8793A K-Shear accelerometer from Kistler. The low-temperature version of this triaxial IEPE sensor for shock and vibration measurement can be operated at down to –195°C, making it an ideal solution for flight tests in the extreme cold of the stratosphere. Nevertheless, there was a challenge to overcome, as Sharon Turner, Applications Engineer at Kistler explains: “The Zephyr team wanted to be able to turn off the sensor in flight in order to save battery power. Although the sensor will operate happily down at –196°C the minimum storage temperature we'd ever tested it to was only –75°C – we'd never anticipated anyone would want to power back up at –195°C. Also, we had no in-house capability to test below –150°C. So, we carefully worked through the design with our colleagues in the US and concluded that we were confident it should power back up and work perfectly, but we just couldn't prove it. So Airbus went ahead with their cryogenic trials and the unit did indeed work perfectly with no detrimental effect on performance.”

The measuring chain for Zephyr is completed by a custom cable solution from Kistler and for the ground test a laboratory charge amplifier, the 5165A LabAmp. This versatile high-end signal conditioning and data acquisition solution comes with either one or four channels and can be operated with many different sensor types – not just Kistler products. Sousa again: “We have been successfully using Kistler instruments for data acquisition on both flight and ground testing. The Zephyr team seeks a continuous development of Airbus' world-leading fixed-wing HAPS platform. For such, mean data acquisition and analysis is paramount to validate new disruptive designs and technologies.” The programming for LabAmp can be done comfortably on a browser window, and for higher channel numbers multiple devices can be daisy-chained including synchronization via PTP (Precision Time Protocol). “Apart from the flexible interface, we are also very satisfied with the measuring accuracy and the service from Kistler. What's more, the small and lightweight sensor design is key for the flight equipment,” Sousa explains.

Moving forward together with High Altitude Platform Stations

How is Airbus Zephyr going to develop in the near future and which goals lie ahead? According to Simon Taylor, Head of Zephyr Programme, the main focus is on further flight campaigns and customer collaboration in order to increase maturity and operational readiness. He comments: “Through working with Kistler we achieve two fundamental things which are key to Zephyr success: precision and mass minimization. By continuing to develop our technology based on high quality data we get closer and closer to system maturity and operational reality.”

However, there is an important non-technical aspect to be taken into account: stratospheric flight is rather new and therefore, regulations are being defined, with some initial principals requiring further elaboration; it requires strategic collaboration and development for effective common operational procedures. That is why Airbus is an executive member of the HAPS Alliance which unites companies from telecommunications, technology, aviation and aerospace in order to promote and democratize HAPS in the stratosphere. Important milestones include regulations, frequencies allocation, common standards and interoperability – and not least raising the global awareness of benefits that HAPS technology can bring to mankind.

12.10.2021
How Yuchai achieves more precision, transparency and resource efficiency for its production of engines conform to China VI
14.09.2021
A high precision measuring chain with dynamometer, laboratory charge amplifier and software enables objective comparison tests.
09.09.2021
SRA: Find the best spot and the ideal sensor layout for direct enforcement of overloaded vehicles.
03.09.2021
At Estudio de la Pisada in Valencia, a 3D force plate helps podiatry experts to develop treatments and orthoses for patients and athletes.
02.07.2021
Two IEPE accelerometers deliver key data for propulsion validation and optimization of flight characteristics even in the stratosphere
22.06.2021
Capturing micro-vibrations with a dynamometer leads to improved satellite technology
02.06.2021
Zero defect despite high volumes: this is the way quality assurance with Kistler test automation systems works for zinc die casting parts
26.04.2021
A digitally driven brake force measurement system makes the life of service technicians for train maintenance much easier
13.04.2021
Inside "The Atmosphere" at MARIN, 100 of our pressure sensors capture wave impacts under varying environmental conditions
22.03.2021
How MAN Energy Solutions is using sensors from Kistler to make its gas turbines fit for the future
08.02.2021
Measurement technology dedicated to the discipline and biomechanics of pole vault enables high performances
05.10.2020
How does a digital measuring chain for piezoelectric sensors work as part of a complex vehicle test stand?
18.09.2020
Convincing test results: The Ohio Department of Transportation goes on to apply Lineas from Kistler for traffic monitoring.
20.08.2020
Precision is the key to top performance: how measurement technology from Kistler supports the development team at EMUGE-FRANKEN
22.07.2020
Quality assurance solutions by Kistler like ComoNeo ensure highest accuracy at TSP Precision Tooling in Shanghai.
09.06.2020
Kistler supports Ceratizit in the development of HDT. This enables complex geometries to be produced with just one tool.
15.11.2019
Process monitoring systems and cavity pressure sensors from Kistler help to reduce the amount of scrap drastically
23.10.2019
How measurement technology from Kistler contributes toward boosting high-end powertools' quality
15.08.2019
How the ANALYSE system from Kistler is enhancing safety and transparency in the field of fastening technology
17.07.2019
Turkey opts for weight enforcement with WIM technology from Kistler
24.06.2019
For the next manned flight to the moon: safety that can be measured
20.06.2019
Segregation of good and bad parts every 1.5 seconds: process monitoring with Kistler enables high quality for over 5 million parts per year.
14.05.2019
In order to achieve excellent quality for its components and medical devices, Tessy Plastics chose sensors and solutions from Kistler.
18.04.2019
A renowned manufacturer of electrical appliances trusts testing and sorting systems by Vester to improve its quality.
02.04.2019
NFL's Jaguars boost their fitness levels with Kistler.
25.03.2019
By using process monitoring from Kistler, not only the assembly of electric fuses is validated, but even the function of the sensors itself.
18.03.2019
How to determine the fitness level of an athlete efficiently? A practical report on the Quattro Jump force plate system from Kistler.
17.12.2018
Thanks to precise Weigh in Motion technology from Kistler, Hungary's roads are sustainably protected against overloaded vehicles.
27.11.2018
Bang&Clean relies on Kistler's precise measurement of ignition processes and pressure wave propagation
10.10.2018
Sartorius applies the process monitoring system ComoNeo from Kistler and thereby increases the process quality during injection molding
08.10.2018
The Dortmund Technical University tests the new MicroDyn 9109AA cutting force dynamometer from Kistler and breaks new ground for developing its micromachining processes.
31.08.2018
The ZF company operates a software-controlled Kistler fastener test bench with an integrated vibration unit.
14.08.2018
BIG Daishowa, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is one of the leading producers of tool holders for the machining industry. Each year the company produces over half a million collet chucks. Their products are developed using, among other resources, Kistler’s cutting force measuring device.
16.07.2018
Enhanced quality and efficiency in mobile crane manufacture – thanks to the test stand for torque tools by Kistler
11.04.2018
The world’s largest provider of rail transport technology relies on Kistler’s measurement expertise. Thanks to the only crash wall of its kind in the world, the impact forces of the trains and their components can be precisely measured and analyzed.
14.11.2017
In the development of cooling lubricants, Blaser Swisslube relies on Kistler's measurement expertise.
11.08.2017
Applus IDIADA relies on DTI in-dummy technology from Kistler for Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint (THOR).
04.01.2017
Road safety is a central topic in vehicle development. Through accurate measurements, Kistler helps increase the chance of survival in crashes.
22.12.2016
Kistler makes progress in vehicle development possible
22.12.2016
Kistler Sensor Correvit® SFII measures world record
20.12.2016
Kistler sensors deliver a maximum in data quality under any conditions.
07.11.2016
Kistler pressure sensors enabled the Rosetta space probe to fly for 6.4 billion kilometers.
05.10.2016
Since the end of 2015 FC Basel is using Kistler force plates to reduce the dropout of young talents.
17.08.2016
Kistler makes the difference in the crucial sports moments with its Performance Analysis System for Swimming.
19.02.2016
Determination of Pump Efficiency with Kistler KiTorq Measuring Flange System
04.11.2015
Piezoelectric Measurements with CompactRIO™
15.06.2015
Measurement Solutions for Automotive Test Systems
08.05.2015
Quality Assurance in the Automotive Industry
02.03.2015
How Brose improves the quality of its two-component production and automatically separates defective parts
02.12.2014
The Kistler Group pursues a growth policy that is both ambitious and sustainable – and strategic acquisitions are one of its core elements. ‘Strategic’ means that Kistler deliberately selects companies which can achieve more together with Kistler than they ever could by continuing alone. The takeover of Dr. Staiger Mohilo & Co. GmbH in 2006 enabled Kistler to grow jointly with the acquired company...
02.12.2014
After a ten-year voyage, the Rosetta space probe's Philae landing module finally touched down on the surface of comet ‘Chury’.
23.08.2011
HEWI and its Customers Benefit from Cavity Pressure Technology
15.02.2011
End-to-end process monitoring for critical medical moldings
07.02.2011
Cavity pressure measurement eliminates short shots at Fischer GmbH & Co KG of Sinsheim/Germany
Контакты
Max 25 MB