Pushing the envelope: QinetiQ’s world-class wind tunnel

You might wonder what a Boeing 777, a Formula 1 car and Red Dwarf have in common.

Well, they’ve all made use of QinetiQ’s five-metre wind tunnel at Farnborough.

Wind tunnel imageThe low-speed, pressurised wind tunnel, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012, plays a vital role in aerodynamic testing for military and civilian aircraft. Initially developed for combat aircraft, the wind tunnel is used to test high-lift systems and new aircraft wing configurations that cannot be accurately simulated using mathematical modelling alone.

The QinetiQ facility is one of only three pressurised wind tunnels in the world. Pressurisation enables the simulation of conditions much closer to full-scale for aircraft take-off and landing. This offers many benefits in terms of de-risking major programmes at a fairly early production stage.

Readers of the QinetiQ blog who have taken a commercial flight will have probably travelled on an aircraft tested in the wind tunnel. Boeing has used the facility for testing numerous aircraft, including the 777, 787 and the new 737 MAX – which is due to enter service in 2017.

The wind tunnel has also been used to test space planes, Formula 1 cars and trains as well as providing the backdrop for films and TV series – such as Red Dwarf. It’s certainly come a long way from its early beginnings in military test and evaluation.

If you are interested in finding out more about the wind tunnel or using the facility, please contact us.

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