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CAD/FEA Modeling for Direct and Indirect Effects Lightning Reduces Test Costs and Time

June 3, 2020

Finite element analysis allows the performance of complex simulations that accurately model the interaction of lightning with a variety of aircraft and avionics components. With 28 labs in North America, including a Lightning Center of Excellence, customers can get easy access to a wide range of lightning-related services, including finite element analysis, indirect lightning, direct strike, and more.

By decomposing complex CAD-generated objects into mesh-able geometrical shapes, these models are able to accurately portray the lightning environment (current distribution, electric and magnetic fields, pressure waves, temperature variations, induced transients) on high fidelity renditions of real objects. Once the geometry is built, highly customizable material parameters, boundary conditions, and applicable physics interfaces (Maxwell’s Equations) are applied that generate a system of equations that is solved in COMSOL. With accurate representation of test object geometries, the solutions of these models allow for conducted and induced transients to be determined at any point in the model.

Utilizing simulation and modeling along with laboratory testing provides customers with a new, cutting edge way to obtain valuable test data that can reduce testing costs substantially. Making use of these models allows for the easy acquisition of difficult or impossible to obtain lab measurements (equipment limitations) without having to perform the test on an actual object. Once a model has been developed, a similar test is performed on a real piece of equipment in order to validate the model. Once the model has been validated, lightning attachment locations, cable routing configurations, and material characteristics (to name a few) are all easily modifiable to allow for many permutations of the test environment to be modeled. The results of these models can provide valuable design constraints and necessary test levels for certification. Additionally, once validated, these models can serve as a firm basis for similarity analyses for future design changes, providing the potential for a cost and schedule reduction to future programs.

We are able to meet the full scope of RTCA DO-160 testing, as well as numerous other specifications with lightning requirements including MIL-STD-461/462, SAE ARP 5416A, and IEC 61400-24 (wind turbines).  Contact us today to discuss your next test program.

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