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Nimrod lightning strike success for Boldman
Friday, 17 August 2007

Boldman Ltd, the UK's leading aluminium profile system supplier, is celebrating after its largest bespoke aluminium structure proved itself. The system underwent rigorous testing when BAE Systems undertook simulated lightning strike tests on one of its Nimrod aircraft.

Boldman, a prime supplier to BAE Systems, was approached to design, manufacture and install the structure.

During the trials, the Nimrod aircraft was cocooned in over four and a half kilometres of aluminium profile constructed into a specialised aluminium framework. The actual testing involved a pulse generator which was charged to high voltage and used to zap the aircraft with a high current pulse of up to 50,000 amps.

"The structure was quite unlike any other and was certainly the largest aluminium profile structure that we have been involved in", stated Nigel Clarke, Managing Director of Boldman. "We are sure that this is one of the largest aircraft lightning strike test structures that has ever been developed, and it is testament to the Boldman team that the tests have gone so well", he added.

One of the first challenges in this type of testing is to fool the aircraft into believing it is flying in the air. The Boldman designed ultra-complex metal framework was then constructed around the aircraft to act as a return conductor.

The completed structure acted as a circuit so that an electrical current could be put into the nose of the aircraft, then into the return conductor and brought back to the generator.

Due to the sheer size of the structure, Boldman's production facilities in Bolton were used for the construction of smaller subassembly sections of the overall structure, before it was finally assembled at BAE Systems' Warton facility. The aircraft being tested was the Nimrod PA03, which is being used to test out the whole of the mission system. Information from the trial, together with electromagnetic modelling and further analysis, will provide the basis for achieving clearance of the aircraft. Managing Director of BAE Systems' Large Aircraft Business, Joe Harland, said the trials were another significant step in design and development of the aircraft. "Not all our important tests are most effectively completed in flight. These lightning strike trials are a major undertaking, but, in common with the hot and cold weather trials conducted last year, are essential in demonstrating the ability of the aircraft to cope with the harshest of operational environments," he said.

An expert in providing complex structures manufactured from aluminium profiles, Boldman provides a revolutionary alternative to conventional steel structures which were once extensively used in the aerospace industry.

No strangers to innovation, Boldman developed reconfigurable modular tooling in conjunction with engineers at BAE Systems, that is used across a range of aircraft programmes.

"We pride ourselves on being able to provide innovative systems for any aerospace application" stated Nigel Clarke.

Contact details from our directory:
Boldman Limited Jigs & Fixtures, Work Platforms, Extrusion (Metal), Gantries, Screens, Tooling
BAE Systems plc Airframer
Related directory sectors:
Test Equipment