Apache Main Transmission Test Stand
Northstar | Bedford Park, IL | 2004 Engineering Excellence Honor Award
For more than 25 years, the AH-64 (Apache helicopter) Main Transmission Test Stand has tested development, production, and overhauled transmissions for the U.S. Army under the supervision of Northstar Aerospace (Chicago) Inc. and its previous owners. Due to the age of the test stand and resulting operational problems, Northstar decided to perform a major upgrade. The upgrade would restore test stand performance, improve instrument accuracy, automate controls, and enhance data acquisition and reporting. The test stand is located at the company's Bedford Park, Illinois facility.
Northstar retained Emprise on a turnkey basis to rebuild and upgrade the test stand including the following tasks:
- Overhaul the stand's four gearboxes, one main rotor eddy-current clutch, two engine input eddy-current clutches, and one eddy-current tail rotor dynamometer
- Replace critical measurement instrumentation and control systems
- Replace the manual controls with a modern automated data acquisition and control system.
Emprise, as prime contractor
- Coordinated the efforts of three subcontractors to disassemble the test stand
- Overhaul the gearboxes, clutches, and tail rotor dynamometer
- Reassemble the test stand with the rebuilt and new components.
Finally, a new data acquisition and controls system was implemented with software code developed by Emprise specifically for this project. As a result, Northstar Aerospace has regained the test stand performance and reliability originally demonstrated by the test stand. Enhanced accuracy of test measurements allows Northstar to ensure production quality, while controls automation has reduced test and production cycle time.
Northstar Aerospace has regained the test stand performance and reliability originally demonstrated by the test stand. Enhanced accuracy of test measurements allows Northstar to ensure production quality. Improved reliability and controls automation has reduced nonproductive downtime, electrical energy costs, and production unit test and cycle time.