AEDC — A Case Study in Mechanical Integrity
The Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) is a ground-based flight test facility operated by the US Air Force Test Center. Inherent in its operations—testing and evaluation of aircraft, missile, and space systems and subsystems—is the ongoing need for regulatory compliance and certification.
In 1989, the AECD awarded GP Strategies, through a competitive procurement, the Pressure and Hazardous Material Systems (PHMS) Certification Program contract. Since then, GP Strategies has been awarded four consecutive contracts through 2016.
The GP Strategies Solution
GP Strategies developed the mechanical integrity certification methodology currently in use at AEDC, with a focus on the following key aspects:
- Certification and recertification requirements and methodology
- Procedures for examination and testing of PHMS
- Approach to design and analysis and follow-up assessments
- Configuration management
- In-service inspection (ISI) planning
- Operations and maintenance
As part of the contract, GP Strategies:
- Provided engineering and inspection services to evaluate pressurized systems, including wind tunnels, pressure vessels, piping systems, and all components/devices within the systems
- Performed analyses in accordance with National Consensus Pressure Technology Codes and Standards, and AEDC engineering and safety standards
GP Strategies also played a part in the following innovations and achievements:
- Created a pressure vessel database to organize and catalog the information from the calculations
- Created a database of all the manufacturers’ drawings, the goal being to maintain all historical data for the pressure vessels and miscellaneous equipment located at AEDC that have been certified through the PHMS Program
- Designed and fabricated specialty tools to aid in the nondestructive examination of pressure vessels and systems
Thus far, the program has certified more than 150 systems, more than 220 pressure vessels, and in excess of 75,000 feet (14 miles) of pipe. GP Strategies has received the first ever Award Fee score of 100% in AEDC’s more than 50-year history and, to date, has received 100% more than 35 times. Our five-phased approach methodology has been published and presented at ASME conferences, NASA safety conferences, and industry forums. Risk management, GP Strategies’ primary task at AEDC, continues to be fulfilled successfully at the highest level.