K-46 Air-to-Air Refueling Test Rig
Cobham Mission Systems | Davenport, Iowa | 2014 ACEC Honor Award
During the aerial refueling process, the distance between the two aircraft varies due to pilot ability, equipment limitations, and air turbulence. As the distance varies, the hose reel must respond quickly to adjust the hose length to avoid dangerous slack or excessive hose tension.
Qualification tests performed in ground test facility must mimic flight conditions as associated with air-to-air refueling events such as hose position, speed, tension and geometric relations. The test facility must also mimic tanker services such as electrical power, hydraulic power, fuel flow, and fuel pressure.
Emprise developed an electro-hydraulic winch system that simulates hose loads and movements, coupled with a monorail track that allows for 110 ft of hose deployment. A 14 ft electric lift simulates various vertical displacement scenarios. Fuel, hydraulic, and electrical systems replicate typical KC-46 aircraft services.
The various test functions operating under computer control, combine to create on the ground what the drogue system will experience in flight. This has allowed Cobham to develop their product safely and to provide the US Air Force with state-of-the-art aerial refueling capability well into the 21st century.
At 2:28-2:56 you can see the Aerial Refueling Test Stand