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Welcome to Cranfield Aerospace’s (CAeS) Aircraft Ground Operations (AGO) division. Here at CAeS we have long ensured the safe operation of runways, helidecks and specific aircraft events through:

  • Runway friction testing
  • Helideck friction testing
  • Water ingestion trials
  • Independent evaluation and consultancy

CAeS’ role as a key independent provider of runway friction testing continues to help ensure the safety of aircraft manoeuvres at civilian and military airports throughout the UK and around the globe. See our Runway Friction Testing page for a detailed introduction into our capabilities.

In a similar vein, CAeS regularly help to ensure the safety of helicopter operations on offshore and vessel helidecks in the North Sea, as well as other land based raised helipads. Through years of experience, CAeS are well versed in performing helideck friction tests and assessments that support helideck operators in removing cumbersome and hazardous helideck landing nets. For more information on CAeS’ helideck friction testing, see our designated Helideck Friction Testing page.
In addition to friction testing, CAeS also have the unique capability of operating water ingestion trials at the UK’s only specially constructed facility. Based at Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire, UK, CAeS can help towards getting your new aircraft fully certified for operation.

Using Suitably Qualified and Experienced Persons (SQEP) in a huge variety of friction testing and airfield ground operation projects, CAeS are always available to offer independent consultancy, third-party evaluation and equipment / surface correlation trials. Please feel free to contact our Friction Surveys Manager, Justin Lewis, with any questions or enquiries. Go to our Team page for more details about getting in touch.

Why Friction Test?

With millions of aircraft taking-off and touching-down at airports around the world every day, it is important to know that your runway is up to the job and won’t be the cause of an incident due to poor friction. For all runways, good rideability and knowledge of friction characteristics are paramount for safety and effective maintenance cost planning.  The friction properties of a surface represent the interface between the pavement and the aircraft using it and have a significant influence on operations. Aside from peace of mind, it is also an international requirement with civilian and military standards such as CAP683, ICAO Annex 14 and MADS (formally JSP554) formally regulating the procedures and equipment to ensure runway safety remains at the highest level.

Experts in Friction Testing

With decades of experience, Cranfield Aerospace (CAe)S is a leading expert in conducting runway friction tests throughout the UK and around world. Operating four CAA accepted Continuous Friction Measurement Equipment (CFME) devices, CAeS are perfectly equipped to perform safety critical runway friction tests and support independent evaluations for military, civilian and international customers. Employing Suitably Qualified and Experienced Persons (SQEP) and regularly serviced equipment, CAeS are always available and ready to respond to any customer requirement. Our years of experience mean that friction tests are professionally conducted with little or no disruption to flights or airport operations.

Over the years, CAeS have successfully completed runway friction tests and provided expert knowledge and support to customers throughout the UK, Europe, South Africa and Asia. Throughout any test, CAeS always operate to the strict criteria and relevant international standards of CAP683, ICAO Annex 14 and MADS (formally JSP554).

For runway friction testing, CAeS can offer:

  • Suitably Qualified and Experienced engineers holding UK DVA security clearance
  • Support to UK civilian, military and international customers
  • CAA accepted Continuous Friction Measurement Equipment
  • Certification of new runway surfaces or re-evaluation of existing runway surfaces
  • Detailed friction contour maps, easily highlighting areas of poor friction
  • Independent assessments and evaluations

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Stations

CAeS has regularly been awarded the friction testing contract for all licensed RAF, Army, and Royal Navy stations in the UK, as well as those in Gibraltar, Cyprus and Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands. The award of the most recent contract reinforces the enduring partnership between Cranfield Aerospace Ltd and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in ensuring the continuing safety of all aerodrome runways within the UK and overseas.

Post Accident Investigation

As part of our ongoing certification of operational runways, CAeS can also offer our services in the support of investigations following accidents and incidents where a runway’s friction performance is called into question. Please get in touch via our Team page to talk through any queries you may have.

Why Friction Test your Helideck?

Those of us involved in the offshore industry know more than most about the importance of safe working and risk management. With this in mind, regular helideck friction testing gives offshore installation operators the assurance needed to remove helideck landing nets. Helideck landing nets present a hazard to personnel in the form of slips, trips and falls, as well as to helicopters through shock-effects sustained on the wheels during landing. For busy installations and vessels, the hazard posed by a landing net is highly undesirable and easily eradicated. The first assessment of a potential hazard is “can the hazard be removed”, in this case, with the successful completion of a friction test, the answer is yes!

Experts in Helideck Friction Testing

CAeS regularly conduct helideck friction tests throughout the year for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. All trials engineers are fully trained and certified to work offshore and understand the safety critical mentality of offshore life. CAeS operate a number of CAA accepted Continuous Friction Measurement Equipment (CFME) devices, which are kept in a regularly serviced condition, ready to meet any new customer enquiries at short notice. All offshore helideck, vessel and helipad friction tests are conducted to the standards of CAP437.

Over the years CAeS have worked closely with the CAA to optimise the procedures and requirements of helideck friction tests. With years of experience and trials data to hand, CAeS have the ability to award one, two or three year safety certificates to helidecks that meet the standards of safety required. This gives your company the certification they require, whilst also saving you money.

For helideck friction testing, CAeS can offer:

  • Clearance to operate without helideck landing nets
  • Suitably Qualified and Experienced engineers certified to work offshore
  • Four CAA accepted CFME devices allowing for quick response and shipping times
  • Detailed friction contour maps of the helideck surface, easily highlighting areas of interest
  • Experience in working to the tight and weather dependent schedules of the offshore industry

Independent Correlations and Evaluations

As part of our core helideck friction testing capabilities, CAeS also run, manage and support various equipment evaluations, correlation trials and one-off tests for companies and manufacturers looking to bring new equipment or surface materials into the industry. For example, specialised panel tests allow manufacturers to establish the friction performance of new surface materials, and subsequently optimise their properties, before submitting them for use in the construction of new helidecks.

Water ingestion trials are performed as a safety critical evaluation of an aircraft’s engines during take-off and landing manoeuvres through puddles. Here at Cranfield Aerospace (CAeS) we have the unique capability to run, manage and support water ingestion trials at the UK’s only specially constructed testing facility. Our unique facility is integrated into the main runway at Cranfield Airport and allows complete control over the number of runs, direction and depth of water required to meet regulatory requirements. Each dedicated trial is designed to put an aircraft through its paces and ensure that any water ingested by the engines during take-off and landing does not cause unacceptable power loss, damage or failure.

For water ingestion testing, CAeS can offer:

  • Years of experience conducting successful water ingestion trials
  • UK’s only specifically constructed water ingestion test runway
  • Dedicated project managers and experienced trials engineers
  • Commercial, business and private aircraft testing

Global Business, Government and Commercial interests in aviation continues to grow and the resultant increase in air traffic has its impact felt in many different ways. One major impact is the noise generated by aircraft and, to support the reduction of such noise, there remains the requirement to conduct noise surveys and assessments to improve design and noise management and also to assess an aircraft’s compliance with regulations.

CAeS offers comprehensive aircraft noise surveys and assessments in accordance with international and local policies and standards, including EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) CS-36 (Certification specifications for aircraft noise) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Annex 16 Volume 1. Aircraft noise surveys that include weather, background and aircraft generated noise measurements are conducted to allow the assessment of the impact of noise on the environment. Noise certification under ICAO Annex 16 Volume 1 Chapter 3 requires that a number of Effective Perceived Noise levels (EPNL) need to be determined for compliance. CAeS test those EPNLs for compliance.

The reference noise measurement points for each of the EPNLs, the associated flight procedures and an acceptable evaluation method for the measurements and analysis are all defined and in line with ICAO Annex 16.

All CAeS measuring equipment and proposed test set-ups shall be approved by EASA and CAeS will provide a comprehensive test report, including all the test data and analysis performed.

What you get with Cranfield Aerospace…

Cranfield Aerospace (CAeS) offers an essential service, assisting you to conform to UK CAA, international and military standards.
Comprehensive Runway Friction Testing provides you with certification showing that your runway is safe for use. Our service will provide you with:

  • Professional and highly experienced engineers
  • Detailed assessment reports containing levels of conformance, recommendations, friction contour maps and individual run profiles.
  • (Contour maps and run profiles detail friction properties and highlight zones of interest across the entire runway surface)
  • Project management from initial enquiry through to contract completion
  • Expert advice and after-service support available anytime

Regular Helideck Friction Testing can eliminate the need for landing nets and ensure helicopter operations onboard offshore installations are a much safer procedure. Our service will always provide you with:

  • Suitably Qualified and Experienced engineers certified to work offshore
  • Testing procedures designed and optimised to be carried out with minimum disruption to helideck operations
  • Detailed analysis reports containing levels of conformance, recommendations and friction contour maps.
  • (Contour maps provide a detailed breakdown of your helideck surface friction properties in 1 x 1 meter sections)
  • Project management from initial enquiry through to contract completion with experience in helping UK and international customers
  • Expert advice and after-service support available anytime

All friction testing equipment used by CAeS is CAA approved Continuous Friction Measurement Equipment (CMFE), including the Douglas Mu-Meter and Finlay Irvine GripTester. All equipment is regularly maintained, serviced and kept in a ready-to-use condition for use at short notice. This helps us to respond quickly to meet urgent customer needs.

With runway and helideck friction testing at the core of our business, we also offer:

Cost effective helideck panel testing is regularly performed in support of Research and Development of new surfaces.

Independent Technical Evaluation services to support your friction testing or runway investigations.

Support of water ingestion trials at the UK’s only specially constructed facility. Water ingestion trials can ensure that runway surface water ingested on take-off and landing does not cause unacceptable power loss or dangerous engine failures.

Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis is the Friction Survey Manager at Cranfield Aerospace Ltd. He obtained a BEng (Hons) in...

T: +44 (0) 1234 754545
M: +44 (0) 7826 948 088


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