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Photo: National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University
NIAR Research technicians for a wing for fatigue testing in the Full-Scale Structural Test Lab at NIAR's ASTEC facility.

Hawker Beechcraft, NIAR expand strategic partnership

Friday, April 02, 2010
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As an expansion to a strategic partnership, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) today announced it will transfer the equipment and operations of its electromagnetic compatibility, mechanical and environmental test laboratories to the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University.

This is the second collaboration between NIAR and HBC, signifying a unique university/industry relationship. NIAR currently leases space on the HBC campus for its Aircraft Structural Testing and Evaluation Center (ASTEC). The agreement began in 2004 and has been highly successful.

"This collaboration is a great example of industry and academia working together to leverage our strengths," said Ed Petkus, vice president, HBC Product Development and Engineering. "It will provide research opportunities and technical expertise that will grow Wichita's aerospace knowledge base and expand our community's technological leadership."

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Gary Miller

"Not only will NIAR be able to perform the required testing for industry, but the facility will be a unique classroom for undergraduate and graduate students to achieve hands-on training," said Gary Miller, WSU provost. "NIAR will be able to offer these services on both the industry testing level, as well as the research level. This facility will place NIAR among the most unique university-based research facilities in the world."

Through the new arrangement, NIAR will gain new testing capabilities, additional space and experienced staff. NIAR will operate facilities within two HBC buildings on its main campus in Wichita, totaling 49,000 square feet. In order to maintain consistency within the laboratory, a number of HBC employees working in the facility will be offered employment with WSU. 

"I appreciate Hawker Beechcraft's enterprising approach to achieving full utilization of these testing facilities while expanding NIAR's research and development capabilities," said John Tomblin, NIAR executive director. "The operation of this facility will raise NIAR's level of aviation research and testing services and capabilities to a level that is unprecedented for a university center. We anticipate the new labs will follow the success of ASTEC, which also strengthened our capabilities and is now used by a number of aerospace companies across the country."

The facilities, named the Aircraft Environment Research and Testing Laboratory, will be used to conduct state-of-the-art testing and research for HBC and the entire aerospace industry, as well as federal agencies. The new labs will have the capability to perform a variety of environmental tests, including electromagnetic effects, lightning effects, temperature and altitude, humidity, operational shock and vibration, salt spray, flammability and icing, and other specialized testing for aircraft safety assurance and certification.

The Aircraft Environmental Research and Testing Laboratory at HBC adds increased capacity to NIAR's existing facilities, which includes an 88,000-square-foot laboratory complex on the WSU campus and its 46,000-square-foot ASTEC facility. NIAR currently benefits from a talented workforce of more than 350, including 200 full-time staff members and faculty associates who have undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in aerospace and engineering-related disciplines.

The National Institute for Aviation Research is a prestigious state-of-the-art aerospace research and development laboratory with global reach and expertise in research, design, testing and certification. NIAR's clientele include many of the world's aerospace manufacturers, NASA and the FAA. It is one of the largest aviation R&D academic institutions in America. NIAR is an unincorporated division of Wichita State University and a KTEC Center of Excellence.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is a world-leading manufacturer of business, special-mission and trainer aircraft – designing, marketing and supporting aviation products and services for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide. The company's headquarters and major facilities are located in Wichita, Kan., with operations in Salina, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark.; Chester, England, U.K.; and Chihuahua, Mexico. The company leads the industry with a global network of more than 100 factory-owned and authorized service centers.

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Created on Friday, April 02, 2010; Last modified on Saturday, April 03, 2010