The Safety and Suitability Technologies Group (SST) of Cranfield Aerospace Solutions Ltd carried out a flight trial on the Airbus A400M aircraft in late 2015 to establish the transportation vibration environment experienced by a number of containerised and racked weapon systems carried in the cargo bay. The work was carried out under contract from MOD A400M PT.

The A400M aircraft possesses many features that present new and exciting challenges for vibration data analysis. For example, the shaft speed is not fixed but is automatically selected by the control software from five possible speeds.

Vibration data was successfully captured over five sorties, each carrying various configurations of the following weapons: ASRAAM, Stingray, Spearfish, Harpoon, TLAM (Tomahawk), Sea Skua, Paveway IV and Brimstone.

During each sortie, the aircraft was flown through a comprehensive range of flight conditions similar to those expected to be performed during operational use.

The flight trials were followed by a comprehensive series of parametric studies. For example, an investigation was conducted into how vibration severity changes as it is transmitted from the cargo bay floor, through the pallet, the container or rack, the anti-vibration mounts or damping material, to the weapon itself. Using approved analysis techniques test severities for the cargo bay, pallets and each weapon system were compiled from the recorded data. These test severities will form the basis of the fall back tests for this aircraft, which will be published in the new Issue 5 of DEF STAN 00-35, and will also be used to ensure that the transported weapon systems remain safe and serviceable in the vibration environment experienced within A400M cargo bay.

We have over 40 years experience supporting munitions clearances, undertaking environmental trials to prove installations and investigate the dynamic structural performance of new systems and equipment in the air, on land and at sea. Details here.