AVIC progresses new FL-64 hypersonic wind tunnel development

FL-64 wind tunnel
FL-64 wind tunnel testing facility.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced on its official WeChat social media account on 21 November that its new FL-64 wind tunnel testing facility has completed the first stage of commissioning trials, paving the way for formal use.

According to AVIC, the FL-64 system has a diameter of 1 m and is designed to simulate hypersonic velocities between Mach 4 and Mach 8 at an altitude of 48 km under a total temperature of 900 K (626.8°C) and offers a minimum run time of 30 seconds. It is also designed to perform a range of hypersonic aircraft simulation tasks including dynamic force and pressure measurements, thermal flows, as well as air inlet and weapons separation tests.

Development of the FL-64 system is being led by AVIC’s Shenyang-based Aerodynamics Research Institute (AVIC ARI) with technical assistance from the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment (CAE), with work commencing from the end of 2019.

The company added that initial trials of the partially completed wind tunnel were successfully conducted in December 2020, with construction of the main assembly completed in September 2021.

“The construction of large-scale wind tunnels is a complex system project, and hypersonic wind tunnels are faced with multiple challenges such as high temperature, high pressure and high speed, which makes development a huge undertaking,” stated AVIC, noting that the facility will be able to provide comprehensive testing and validation of Mach 4 hypersonic aircraft when fully operational.

AVIC ARI launched the development of its first hypersonic wind tunnel, the FL-63, in late 2013. With a variable diameter of 0.3-0.5 m, the fully operational FL-63 is designed to simulate speeds of between Mach 3 and Mach 10.

Besides the FL-64, the Beijing-based Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Science (IMCAS) is also developing the JF-22 wind tunnel. The JF-22 is expected to be ready for operations in 2022 and is reportedly designed to simulate speeds of up to Mach 30 at altitudes between 40 km and 100 km.

by Jr Ng