Case Study:

Reducing Tornado Flight Turnaround Times


The QinetiQ/MIRA Tornado project team.

Landing a 27 tonnes Tornado jet at speeds of over 200 kph in as little as 900m generates significant heat in the aircraft’s tyres, mainly due to the braking. With the MOD having strict controls to prevent further flights until the tyre temperature has cooled, tyre temperature has become the limiting factor in the turnaround time between flight missions.

With the aim of reducing this time, the Tornado Integrated Project Team found that off-board cooling fans applied to the brakes and main wheel assemblies reduced the tyre cooling times. To determine just how effective the fans were across a range of ambient temperatures they commissioned QinetiQ, the defence and security technology company, to instigate a series of tests and make recommendations for the fans implementation.

Conducting the testing with operational aircraft would have been too expensive, time-consuming and disruptive. Therefore, QinetiQ contacted HORIBA MIRA to discuss methods of simulating landing using a test rig.

HORIBA MIRA designed and built the test rig (pictured) using components taken from a Tornado GR Mk4, assembled on to a fabricated frame, mounted with a hydraulic actuator and including a braking system. The aircraft wheel could be applied against a chassis dynamometer in one of HORIBA MIRA’s climatic wind tunnels to simulate aircraft landing.

Using the test rig, different target temperatures were generated within the aircraft tyre. The wheel would then be bought to rest and testing of the brake cooling fans conducted. The cooling fans were applied as ‘in service’ and the rate at which the tyre temperature dropped was recorded. The testing was conducted at different ambient temperatures and also using different tyres.

From the data collected cooling curves were produced. The correlation between these results measured in the climatic wind tunnel and legacy data taken from Tornado trial reports was found to be excellent. The data should help the Tornado Integrated Project Team to significantly reduce the turnaround time between flight missions, whilst maintaining safety.