Altitude Testing

Products and equipment used at excessive heights need to be durable enough to withstand the extreme conditions they will face. Accurately replicating temperature, humidity and atmospheric conditions requires specially designed facilities in which controlled, precise altitude testing can be performed.

Altitude Testing at NTS

NTS has been performing altitude testing on commercial aviation equipment since the 1970s. Our altitude testing capabilities include straight altitude tests up to 100,000 feet (30,000m) as well as multi-variate tests combining altitude, temperature and humidity, as well as altitude/vibration tests and rapid and explosive decompression testing.

NTS altitude test chambers can accommodate components, materials, subassemblies and complete devices in altitude chambers ranging from the very small up to the very large. Our ramp up rate for standard altitude testing is 0 to 100,000 ft (30,000m) in less than 5 minutes. For explosive decompression, less than a second. Temperature capabilities range from the low -300°F (-180°C) to +400°F (+200°C). And if you want your equipment to fly higher, our hi-vacuum, space simulation facilities will take it to 10-6 Torr (1.3e-7 kPa).

NTS performs both rapid (not more than 15 seconds) and explosive (0.1 seconds or less) decompression testing in several of its laboratories around the U.S.

Typical items requiring such testing are parts, systems, and sub-assemblies that operate in high altitude (such as in a cockpit of an aircraft) and may be required to either continue to operate or at the least not pose a hazard in the event of a rapid or even catastrophic decompression. Seals, safety equipment, ejection mechanisms, optical gear, instrumentation, and controls are just some of the many products subject to decompression testing.

NTS’s expertise in environmental simulation and the right size of altitude chambers attracts many defense related projects such as the decompression testing of the Panoramic Night Vision Goggle, by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB. The laboratory selected NTS to perform a modified MIL-STD-810 test in which the goggle passed with flying colors.

The test criteria included an altitude of up to 50,000 ft. (15,240m) and a rapid decompression from 8,000 ft. (2,400m) to 22,000 ft. (6,700m) in 44 seconds and 25,000 ft. (7,600m) to 50,000 ft. (15,200m) in 59 seconds.

The Importance of Altitude Testing

Proper altitude testing will look at a number of factors experienced by components subjected to extreme heights. These include:

  • Temperature: Temperature lapse rates average 3.5°F for every 1,000 feet of height. Components designed for use in aircraft and aerospace equipment must be able to withstand not only extreme cold but also the rapid temperature changes experienced during takeoff and landing.
  • Humidity: With changes in temperature come changes in humidity. Sensitive components must be able to withstand these conditions, too. The tight tolerances required of commercial and military equipment necessitate humidity testing to ensure they will deliver the performance required of them at all times.
  • Pressure: MIL-STD-810, RTCA DO-160 and other standards govern acceptable behavior of internal and exposed aviation equipment when subject to rapid decompression. Altitude testing helps you maintain compliance and deliver a reliable product for use in any application.

Even if compliance with MIL, RTCA or other standards is not required for your application, taking the time to have the appropriate testing done can help your product stand out from the competition. Many purchasers see these standards as an assurance of superior quality that can be counted on to deliver exceptional performance in any environmental or atmospheric condition. In a crowded marketplace, altitude testing to military standards can be an effective selling point for your product.

A History of Partnership With Aviation and Aerospace Contractors

When it comes to making sure your product or component can withstand the conditions experienced at high altitudes, your choice of a testing facility is critical. Because repeated testing at height isn’t economically feasible, it’s essential that test facilities know how to accurately replicate these conditions in the lab. NTS is one of the most trusted names in altitude testing in the country. We have a long history of working with some of the world’s largest avionics and aerospace manufacturers, helping them meet the regulatory challenges of their industry while delivering a quality product on tight schedules.

Altitude testing is available at nearly all NTS facilities coast-to-coast. Contact your local lab today for more information about altitude testing at NTS.

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