NTS News Center

Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

NTS News Center - Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

Learn how Lightning Phenomena is Shaping the Wind Power Industry

Did you know that WindPower contributed more new electric generating capacity in 2016 than any other source?¹ And did you know that NTS has supported the WindPower industry for 30 years?

HV Blade

NTS will be participating in this year’s AWEA WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, CA from May 22-25. Attending from our Pittsfield location is Andy Plumer, world renowned lightning expert, founder, and chief engineer. Joining Andy, will be Justin McKennon, senior engineer and subject matter expert in analytical modeling, and SarahMarie Snow, applications engineer.

Swing by booth #4050 to learn how advanced capabilities in analytical modeling and test services have contributed to the Wind Power industry’s growth and, help Andy, Justin, and SarahMarie celebrate 40 years in the lightning phenomena industry!

AWEA Floorplan

Click image to enlarge; for the interactive AWEA floorplan, click here.

Meet the Team

Andy Plumer

Talk with Andy regarding your potential damage issues and/or future designs to improve turbine structure and system longevity.

Andy Plumer
Founder and Chief Engineer

Andy is a long-standing participant in the IEC TC-88 PT 24—for the development of wind turbine Lightning Protection standard IEC 61400-24—and his work is well known in the formulation of advanced design and verification methods for the aircraft and wind industries.

Justin McKennon

Meet Justin and discuss how analytical modeling might be the solution for your system and structural design challenges.

Justin McKennon
Senior Engineer

Bringing his M.S.E.E., E.I.T., experience as a systems engineer from General Dynamics, Justin is highly accomplished with having made significant contributions in developing the analytical modeling software COMSOL. He has provided design solutions for several large wind industry programs, is an active participant in the Lightning Direct Effects committee for SAE RTCA DO-160, and helped establish NTS’ FEM and simulation services engineering group.

SarahMarie Snow

Let SarahMarie introduce NTS’ engineering and test service capabilities that can support your current or future program needs.

SarahMarie Snow
Applications Engineer

Possessing a wealth of knowledge—a bachelor’s in Science, certified Technical Writer, and NTS Pittsfield’s Lightning Protection of Aircraft and Avionics courses alumnus—SarahMarie has been mentored for the last 12 years by Andy Plumer and Mike Dargi. She is a dedicated applications engineer, interfacing with customers to help them find solutions for their program needs.

Capabilities and Services

Lightning Protection Design

  • Blades (traditional makeup, CFRP makeup, Anti-ice/De-Ice technology, Electronic Systems, Control devices)
  • Control Electronics
  • Power Distribution
  • Structural Components (Hub, Spinner, Nacelle, Mechanical Drive Train and Yaw Control System, Tower Installation, Grounding and Equipotential Bonding)
  • Numerical Simulation Services
    • Blades with Candidate Protection Designs using COMSOL Multiphysics
    • Blade, Hub, Nacelle, Tower and Earthing Installations to predict responses to lightning strikes and performance of protection designs
    • Evaluation for protection devices (SPD, TVS, Shielding, etc.)
  • Lightning Exposure assessments (Zoning, LPZ, per IEC 61400-24)
  • Damage Risk Assessments (On- or off-site turbine inspections for incident investigation)
  • Retrofit Design services

Protection Verification Services

  • Certification Test Planning and documentation
  • Annex D of IEC 61400-24
    • High Voltage Strike Attachment testing
    • High Current Physical Damage testing
Learn More

About NTS Pittsfield

NTS Pittsfield, formerly Lightning Technologies, Inc. (LTI), is home to one of the most complete lightning-simulation laboratories in the world and ranks as an international leader in the development of sophisticated lightning protection systems for customers in the aerospace industry as well as for industrial complexes, golf courses, wind turbine farms, theme parks and other high-risk locations. NTS Pittsfield operates from an 18,000 sq ft facility which includes 14 foot and 25 foot tall generators.

NTS Pittsfield has provided lightning protection design and validation for major aircraft and space vehicles and launch facilities including NASA Space Shuttle and KSC launch complexes. Additional clients include: GE, FAA, Hamilton Sundstrand, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Typhoon Lagoon, and Animal Kingdom parks.

Facility Highlights

  • Design and analysis of systems and subsystems to determine the optimum protection
  • Design and testing of systems and subsystems against international standards for lightning protection
  • Consultation on lightning protection design projects as well as for lightning related problem solving, incident/accident investigations and analysis.
Learn More


NTS offers CAD/FEA Modeling for Direct and Indirect Effects Lightning, Reducing Test Costs and Time

The NTS Lightning Technologies laboratory in Pittsfield, MA is now offering finite element analysis, allowing the performance of complex simulations that accurately model the interaction of lightning with a variety of aircraft and avionics components for our customers. This service is available to all of the customers of the 10 NTS facilities across the US offering direct and indirect lightning testing.

Lightning Testing Figure 2

Figure 1 – Current Distribution and Magnetic Field in Two Current Carrying Copper Conductors

By decomposing complex CAD-generated objects into meshable 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.

Figure 2 - Magnetic Field Penetration through Apertures on a Fuselage

Figure 2 – Magnetic Field Penetration through Apertures on a Fuselage

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.

Figure 3 - Magnetically Induced Voltage on Conductor inside Fuselage

Figure 3 – Magnetically Induced Voltage on Conductor inside Fuselage

For questions about our new finite element modeling and how it can be applied to your testing program or for any other lightning test related inquiries please contact our General Manager Mike Dargi at 413.499.2135 or Mike.Dargi@nts.com

NTS has 10 facilities across the US capable of performing your complex direct effects and indirect effects lightning testing. 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.