US-based business jet MRO provider, Duncan Aviation, is nearing completion of a new flammability lab at its site in Battle Creek, Michigan. As well as creating more space for its Engineering & Certification Services team, the company is expanding its testing capabilities, to include the FAR 25.853 (b) fire-blocking test, also known as the NexGen or sonic burner test.
“The techs needed more space to accommodate the new test equipment and to adequately ventilate the lab so the air is safe for employees,” explained Michael Hill, Duncan Aviation’s enterprise manager of engineering.
When construction is complete, the company’s test equipment will be moved from the old space to the new building, set up, calibrated and tested to make sure it works properly. The team will move and set up one test chamber at a time so that Duncan Aviation’s flammability testing capabilities can continue to operate during the move.
“Currently, we have two vertical test units and a multi-use test unit for horizontal, 45° and wire testing,” said team leader, Cliff Barker. “After those have been installed and are fully functional, we’ll install the new sonic burner (fire-block) test equipment and begin conducting those tests as well.”
The flammability lab team will conduct calibration and R&D tests to make the necessary adjustments on the sonic burner for several weeks. When they’re finished, Duncan Aviation’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) Engineer Structures-Flammability unit members will submit an application to the FAA seeking the authority to issue approvals on FAR 25.853 (b) fireblock testing.
FAR 25.853 (b) fireblock testing was mandated by the FAA in the mid-1980s for aircraft flying under Part 25, and it was amended in 1995 for all aircraft operating under Part 135. The former oil burner seat-cushion test did not apply to many of Duncan Aviation’s customers at the time. Now, as more owner/operators are flying aircraft that must meet and maintain the Amendment 25-59 requirements, or they opt to operate under Part 135 rules, testing has become an additional safety feature.
Duncan Aviation said its ability to provide in-house testing will minimise turn-time and ensure customers’ schedules are met.
“Once the FAA has granted Duncan Aviation’s ODA unit members authority for approvals, we’ll begin performing the new tests,” said Barker.
The team plans to have the equipment set up and operating by March 2021. Performing these burn tests in-house means neither Duncan Aviation nor its customers will have to wait for results to ship from other test labs, nor will they be subject to another lab’s scheduling priorities.
Customers will get their test results directly from their Duncan Aviation project manager as part of their delivery package, providing a single point-of-contact for all of their flammability test data.
“Our in-house testing capabilities will reduce wait times for results by several days,” said Barker. “Our customers are welcome to visit the lab and ask questions, as well.”