As the largest independent provider of testing services for the global Aerospace sector, Element is well-positioned to support your RTCA DO-160 testing programs. With laboratories accredited to ISO 17025:2005 in the US and in Europe, our clients, including the world’s most recognized aircraft system and component manufacturers, enjoy access to the most comprehensive EMC testing and aerospace environmental testing services, combined with an unrivalled capacity of any independent Aerospace product qualification testing company in the world.
With Engaged Experts actively involved in, and holding leadership positions on, RTCA sc135 and organizations such as SAE AE2 Lightning and EUROCAE WG-14 Joint Working Group, our clients benefit from our commitment to staying on the forefront of the evolving standards for aerospace environmental testing and EMC testing, helping you to understand the technical requirements.
RTCA DO-160, Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment, written by RTCA Special Committee 135, covers standard procedures and environmental test criteria for testing airborne electrical and electronic equipment (avionics) and mechanical systems. The tests specified in DO-160G are typically performed to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or other international regulations covering equipment that is installed on commercial aircraft.
Element can often perform the full suite of RTCA DO-160 testing at one location, using multiple test units and parallel paths to shorten test program time and make the most of a client's visit in case there is a desire to witness or support production operation.
The tests and test levels/limits (referred to as “Equipment Categories”) found in DO-160 are applicable to virtually every type of aircraft in use today, including small general aviation aircraft, business jets, helicopters, regional jets, and full-sized airliners.
Element Engaged Experts have been active on RTCA Special Committee 135 for many years, and currently serve as Change Coordinators for Sections 22, 24, 25, and 26.
In addition to RTCA DO-160, we support a comprehensive range of aerospace specifications including:
- Airbus ABD0100.1.2 (including Issue G)
- Airbus ABD0100.1.8
- Airbus ABD0184.108.40.206
- Airbus AMD-24 A/B/C
- Boeing D6-16050
- Boeing 787B3-0147
- DEF STAN 59-41 & 59-411, 61-5
- EuroFighter SPE-J-000-E-1000
- BS 3G100 Part 4 Section 2:1980
- DEF-STAN 61-5
Element also offers an extensive range of product qualification testing including mechanical, structural, operational, functional and performance testing, as well as fluid conveyance testing and specialty tests including hail and bird strike, fuel icing and combined operational reliability testing.
The value of trusting Element with your RTCA DO-160 testing is clear. Working with our leading Engaged Experts and unrivaled portfolio of testing operations and capacities enables our clients to validate certainty in their products and confidence to go to market quickly and safely, working with a global single source partner, Element.
Temperature and Altitude Testing
Sections 4 and 5 utilize the aircraft’s cruising altitude and speed as well as the test unit’s position within the aircraft to establish a ‘Category’. This category is then used within the specification to set the required temperatures, altitudes and rates of change for the various tests.
There are 21 categories associated with temperature and altitude. Temperature testing consists of non-operational ground survival temperatures as low as -55 C and operational high temperatures of 70 C. Altitude testing as high as 70,000 feet as well as decompression (emergency descent) and overpressure testing (routine aircraft pressurization system testing) is also required.
This test determines the performance of equipment during temperature variations between high and low operating extremes and can be combined with temperature testing of Section 4. Testing is done with the unit operating and non-operating at various points in the cycles to demonstrate the unit will function during any temperature condition, steady state or transitioning.
There are three categories of operational temperature variation (A, B, or C) and two categories of thermal shock (S1 and S2). The Categories are for various rates of change (Degrees / Minute) depending on the expected thermal changes the unit will experience in actual use. Category A = 10 Deg C / minute, B = 5 Deg C / minute, C = 2 Deg C / minute, while Categories S1 and S2 are for known or unknown rates of change > 10 Deg C / minute. S2 is the most severe and is an actual Thermal Shock with as quick a transition from one extreme temperature to the other extreme temperature as possible.
This test determines the ability of equipment to withstand natural or induced humid atmospheres. Possible effects can be corrosion or change of equipment performance based on mechanical, electrical or chemical degradation. The various cycles are dependent on where the unit will be located on the aircraft (interior or exterior) and the expected duration of the exposures.
Humidity testing has three Categories, A, B, and C (Standard, Severe, and External). Category A has a high temperature of 50 Deg. C and a duration of two days; Category B has as high temperature of 65 Deg C and a duration of 10 days; and Category C has a high temperature of 55 Deg C and a duration of six days. Operational ‘Spot’ checks are often required.
Operational Shock and Crash Safety Testing
Operational shock verifies that equipment will continue to function after exposure to shocks experienced during normal aircraft operations. Crash safety shock verifies that equipment will not detach from its mountings during an emergency landing.
There are four basic Categories in the Shock section, A, B, D and E. These are based on the unit’s resonant frequency and expected shock exposures during the operational life of the unit.
Usually combined with Vibration testing, Standard Operational Shock (high or low frequency) as well as Crash Safety (impulse) are performed on our electrodynamic shakers. Crash Safety (sustained) is performed using one of our multiple large centrifuges (largest 30 foot arm).
This test verifies that equipment can operate or will not be damaged when subjected to vibration levels depending on the installation and location in the aircraft.
The Vibration section has many Categories of vibration (S, H, Z, and R for Fixed Wing; and R, U and U2 for Helicopter). Depending on the type of aircraft, the location of the unit in the aircraft, and proximity to the engines (based on ‘Zones’) the test levels and durations are determined.
Our facilities offer a full range of capabilities using both electrodynamic and hydraulic systems capable of the many combinations of frequency and displacement required to meet any of the various Categories within RTCA/DO-160. We can help with the design and fabrication of your fixture if needed.
Explosive Atmosphere Testing
This test verifies that equipment that may come into contact with flammable fluids and vapors through normal and/or fault conditions will not cause an explosion.
There are three environments (I, II, III) and three Categories (A, E, H). These take into account the area that the equipment will be on the aircraft (possible or expected flammable fluids), fault conditions, or high surface temperatures.
Element's explosion chambers are capable of attaining altitudes of 50,000 feet and temperature up to 500°F. A wide variety of remote configurations are available to facilitate the operation of units under test. High speed photography can also be used to determine point of failure (capture flame ignition source).
Condensing, Drip, Spray, and Continuous Stream Proof testing are performed on units while operating with tightly controlled unit and water temperatures.
There are four Categories (Y, W, R, and S) and they determine whether the equipment can withstand the effects of liquid water being sprayed, falling, or from condensation, depending on the different type of exposure the test units will see in actual use on the aircraft. Category Y is for Condensing water on the unit while Category W is for falling drops of water from condensation on the aircraft.
Fluids Susceptibility Testing
This determines whether the materials used in the construction of equipment can withstand the effects of fluids that are representative of those commonly used in airborne and ground operations.
While there is only one Category, F, however there are two different methods: Spray and Immersion.
Our inventory of fluids is kept up-to-date with each airframe/airline specific fluids and we can safely perform this test at elevated temperatures. Our Engineers and Technicians can perform the required ‘Operational Checks’ during this multi-day test which can save you travel time and associated costs.
Sand and Dust Testing
This test determines the resistance of equipment to the effects of blowing sand and dust. Adverse effects include: penetration into cracks, bearings, clogging of moving parts and filters, and formation of electrically conductive bridges.
There is only one Category, F. This test requires 28 days of testing in an environment conducive to rapid fungal growth.
Element's experts are highly experienced and spores are kept active which allows us to start a test with minimal notice. As the inspection can be subjective, magnified photos of any growth are included in our test reports.
Fungus Resistance Testing
This test determines whether material used in the construction of equipment can be adversely affected by fungi.
Salt Fog Testing
This test determines the effects on equipment of prolonged exposure to a salt atmosphere. Salt fog can be a destructive test and will show corrosion, clogging or binding of moving parts, as well as insulation faults.
There are two Categories. S for locations where corrosive atmosphere is encountered during normal aircraft operation and T for locations where severe salt atmosphere is encountered (hovering aircraft over sea).
Magnetic Effect Testing
This test is performed to determine how much the Equipment Under Test (EUT) will deflect a compass needle, or effect the indication from a magnetic field sensor, also known as a “Flux Gate”.
There are five equipment Categories (Y, Z, A, B, and C) that apply to installation separation distances between the EUT and compass (or compass sensor) of less than 30 centimeters to more than 300 centimeters.
Power Input Testing
To support your needs to meet the most stringent requirements of RTCA/DO160, MIL-STD, Boeing, Airbus, and many others, Element offers Power Quality testing at extremely high voltage and current levels.
There are four Equipment Categories (A, B, D, or Z) that indicate the type of power used by the equipment and the type of AC and/or DC power source with which the equipment is compatible. For AC powered equipment, an additional designator, placed in parenthesis following the Category designator, is a two character code indicating that the equipment has been tested for use with Constant Frequency (CF), Narrow Variable Frequency (NF), or Wide Variable Frequency (WF).
Up to four additional category designators are also used to indicate testing for:
- AC current harmonics (H)
- AC current modulation (L)
- AC power factor (P)
- DC current ripple (R)
- AC or DC inrush (I)
Voltage Spike Testing
This test determines whether the EUT can operate as required during and/or after voltage spikes are applied to the AC and/or DC power input(s). Any method of generating the spike may be used, provided that the pulse produced has a duration of at least 10 microseconds, a rise-time of less than 2 microseconds, and a source impedance of 50 ohms. A minimum of 50 voltage spikes are applied within 1 minute.
There are two equipment Categories. The Category B test level is twice the AC (rms) and/or DC line voltage (or 200 volts, whichever is less). The Category A test level is 600 volts.
Audio Frequency Conducted Susceptibility - Power Inputs Testing
This test is performed to determine that the EUT will operate as specified when audio frequency interference is applied to the AC and/or DC power input.
There are three DC power equipment Categories (R, B, and Z) that indicate the type of power used by the equipment and the type of DC power source with which the equipment is compatible.
Two AC power equipment Categories are specified (R & K). Category R is used with an additional designation (a two character code), placed in parenthesis following the Category designator, indicates that the equipment has been tested for use with Constant Frequency (CF), Narrow Variable Frequency (NF), or Wide Variable Frequency (WF). Category K designates that the EUT has been tested for use with any type of AC power input, and tested to a higher level of voltage distortion than category R.
Induced Signal Susceptibility Testing
The tests in this section are performed to determine that the EUT can operate as required when the equipment and interconnecting cables are subjected to audio frequency electric fields, magnetic fields and transient voltage spikes.
The equipment Categories are comprised of two characters. The first character (A, B, C, or Z) indicates the tests performed and severity level of the tests. The second character (C, N, or W) indicates the AC power system operating frequency (Constant, Narrow Variable, or Wide Variable) with which the EUT is compatible.
Radio Frequency Susceptibility (Radiated and Conducted) Testing
These tests are performed to determine that equipment will operate as specified when the EUT and its interconnecting cables are exposed to Radio Frequency interference. Continuous Wave (CW), Square Wave AM (SW), and Pulse Modulated (PM) RF signals are required.
Equipment Category designation for Section 20 consists of two letters. Conducted susceptibility test levels are designated with the first category character and radiated susceptibility test levels with the second category character. There are 7 Equipment Categories for conducted susceptibility, and 10 Equipment Categories for radiated susceptibility. These categories indicate the severity level of the tests performed, and/or the type of modulation used. Category S is the least severe at 1 V/m, and Category L is the most severe, with test levels as high as 7200 V/m.
Emission of Radio Frequency Energy Testing
The tests in this section are performed to determine that the EUT does not emit Radio Frequency interference in excess of the specified limits. Conducted RF emissions appearing on interconnecting cables and power leads are measured. Radiated RF emissions from the EUT, interconnecting cables, and power leads are also measured.
There are 6 equipment Categories (B, L, M, H, P, and Q) that indicate the location of the equipment and the separation between the equipment and aircraft antennas. In general, the closer the equipment is to an aircraft antenna, and the more it approaches a "direct view" of an aircraft antenna, the tighter the emissions limits.
Lightning Induced Transient Susceptibility Testing
These tests determine whether the EUT can operate as specified during and/or after various lightning induced transient waveforms are injected into connector pins, interconnecting cables, and power leads using pin injection, and/or cable bundle tests. The pin injection method is normally used to show damage tolerance, while the cable bundle tests are normally used to show upset tolerance.
Category designations consist of five characters that describe the pin and cable test Waveform Sets and test levels. The 3 Pin Injection test waveforms are grouped together in two Waveform Sets (A & B). The 6 Cable Bundle test waveforms are grouped together in four Single Stroke Waveform Sets (C through F), and four combined Single Stroke and Multiple Stroke (G through K), and two Multiple Burst Waveform Sets (L& M).
Lightning Direct Effects Testing
The tests in this section are performed to determine the ability of externally mounted electrical and electronic equipment to withstand the direct effects of a severe lightning strike. The equipment will not normally be powered during the test, and these tests usually cause damage (sometimes spectacular damage) to the EUT. High voltage and/or high current tests at levels of thousands of kilo-Volts and/or hundreds of kilo-Amps are required.
Category designations consist of four characters that describe the nature and severity of the test waveforms applied. The first 2 characters designate the High Voltage Strike Attachment test category, and the last two characters designate the High Current Physical Damage test category. The designated test category for the EUT should correspond to the lightning strike zone in which the EUT will be installed on the aircraft.
Element offers Lightning Direct Effects testing by way of a partner laboratory in the US.
This test determines the ability of the equipment to withstand naturally occurring ice and frost conditions and helps determine the need for de-icing operations. All sections can be performed including automated chambers that perform the 25-cycle Category B test which combines altitude, humidity, and freezing temperatures.
There are three equipment Categories: A, B, and C. Category A is for equipment located externally or in non-climate controlled areas of the aircraft where Ice and Frost may occur due to condensation. Category B is a 25 cycle test which mimics the effects of multiple ascents and descents where the accumulation of water can cause structural or functional damage to moving parts and electronic systems. Category C is used for external areas where standing water could freeze and where ice could build up over time impeding normal operation of the test unit.
Electrostatic Discharge Testing
This test determines whether the EUT can operate as specified during and after being subjected to an electrostatic air discharge event. The test procedure and test generator used is similar to most other international ESD standards, except that the EUT is bonded to the ground plane and only air discharge is specified. Test points are chosen based on their accessibility to personnel, with 10 positive and 10 negative polarity discharges at 15 kV applied to each one.
There is only one Category (A), with a test level of 15 kV.
Fire, Flammability Testing
This section defines the flammability and fire resistance procedures located in the aircraft engine as well as electronic enclosures.In addition to the Bunsen burner type testing required by category C, Element has extensive aircraft engine fire simulation capabilities required by categories A and B as well as smoke and toxicity testing required by certain airframers.
There are three categories, A, B, and C. Categories A and B are intended for equipment located in fire zones (engine) and uses a large kerosene burner to simulate an aircraft engine fire. Category C uses a Bunsen burner and is used to check the non-propagation of the flame in cases where ignition would appear inside or outside of the equipment. Typically, this test is performed on materials only. Element has extensive capabilities required by all categories as well as smoke and toxicity required by various airframers.
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