NIAR Environmental Test Lab is a world class environmental test lab recognized by multiple industries throughout the world. ETL is staffed with many experienced degreed engineers both mechanical and electrical, with over 100 years of combined experience. NIAR ETL offers more services and test capabilities than any other test lab in the world. However, we are not just a test house, we are your partner in testing and certification of your equipment.

Laboratory Testing

DO-160 Testing

Section 4   – Temperature and Altitude
Section 5   – Temperature Variation
Section 6   – Humidity
Section 7   – Operational Shocks and Crash Safety
Section 8   – Vibration
Section 9   – Explosion Proofness
Section 10 – Waterproofness
Section 11 – Fluids Susceptibility
Section 12 – Sand and Dust
Section 13 – Fungus Resistance
Section 14 – Salt Fog
Section 15 – Magnetic Effect
Section 16 – Power Input
Section 17 – Voltage Spike
Section 18 – Audio Frequency Conducted Susceptibility/Power Inputs
Section 19 – Induced Signal Susceptibility
Section 20 – Radio Frequency Susceptibility
Section 21 – Emission of Radio Frequency Energy
Section 22 – Lightning Induced Transient Susceptibility
Section 23 – Lightning Direct Effects
Section 24 – Icing
Section 25 – Electrostatic Discharge
Section 26 – Fire, Flammability

See more information on each capability

Direct Effects of Lightning

Purpose of Testing
To determine the ability of externally mounted equipment to withstand the direct effects of a lightning strike. The term "externally mounted equipment" refers to all equipment mounted externally to the main skin of the aircraft. Also included are all such equipment that is covered only by a dielectric skin or fairing that is an integral part of the equipment.  It also includes connecting cables and associated terminal equipment furnished by the equipment manufacturer as a part of the equipment.
The tests described herein specifically exclude the effects on the tested equipment of voltages and currents induced into the externally mounted equipment and its associated circuitry by means of magnetic or electric field coupling. These indirect effects are covered in Section 22. 

Types of test included are:

  • High Voltage (attachment) test
  • Shows where an attachment may occur
  • Also shows if a dielectric puncture may occur
  • Does not indicate the level of damage expected
  • High current tests
  • Physical damage
  • Fuel ignition
  • Sparking at joints
  • Arcing or conduction to electrical conductors
  • Adequacy of protection

Our facilities are available to coordinate with other sources to provide complete testing services.

Radome Testing

Testing measures radome transmissivity to ensure that radome material and design do not impact the performance of antennas at the nose of the aircraft.

Our facilities include:
- +/- 60 degrees azimuth and +/- 30 degrees elevation gimbal angles possible. Antenna fixtures can be created for larger gimbal angles as needed.
- Custom built test fixtures for each radome
- Precision positioner controller capable of radome & fixture loads of over 50lbs (dependent on mounting method and radome dimensions) - Custom-built software for modular programming of any angle and frequency from 100MHz to 18GHz

Burn Testing

Fire testing performed in accordance with DO-160G, AC20-135, and ISO 9001 standards.

Fixture Capabilities
- Fits 24"x24"x1/4" test panels
- 4Gs of acceleration
- +6 PSI positive pressure differential
- 0 to 1200 feet per minute back side airflow with positive pressure differential
- 0 to -5.5 PSI negative pressure differential
- 0 to 100 feet per minute back side airflow with negative pressure differential
- Alternate non pressure fixture available, along with custom fixture design if necessary

Burner Capabilities
- Jet-A fuel
- 2000℉
- 4500 BTU/hr
- Methane Bunsen Burner for Interior Burn testing 

Testing Capabilities
- FAA Interior Burn per FAR 23.851/25.853
- Firewall/Cowl/Pylon Burn Testing per FAR 23/25 standards
- Developmental Testing (fire proof and fire resistant)
- Certification Testing (fire proof and fire resistant)

Full Vehicle Testing

HIRF Testing

Low-Level Swept Coupling

Testing measures the level of induced currents and voltages on system components as a result of radiated fields below 400MHz.

Low-Level Swept Fields

Above 400MHz, testing is used to determine the transfer function relating the external field to the internal bay fields at the location of the equipment under evaluation.


Lightning Transient Analysis

These tests are intended to measure the Actual Transient Levels (ATL) induced into aircraft electrical wiring as a result of lightning attachment to an aircraft to ensure that the ATL does not exceed the wirings Transient Control Levels(TCL). To measure ATLs, simulated lightning currents are injected into the aircraft and the resultant currents and voltages on the wiring inside the aircraft are recorded.


Interference Path Lost Measurements


Testing determines the levels of attenuation to radio frequency interference signals. These signals originate from inside the cabin. Due to the increasing number of portable electronics allowed on board. This attenuation is necessary to reduce the effects of these signals on the radio antennas mounted outside of the aircraft.

DO-307 Test Methods

  • Back door Coupling Compliance
    Back door coupling occurs when RF energy radiates from the PED and couples directly into the aircraft electrical equipment or wiring.
  • Front Door Coupling Compliance
    Front door coupling occurs when RF energy radiates from the PED and couples directly into the aircraft radio receiver antennas.

RTCA Website

FAA Website


RTCA/NIAR DO-160 Training

RTCA has teamed with Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research (WSU-NIAR) to offer high quality training covering RTCA's DO-160G, Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment. The course will provide an understanding of the use of DO-160G and how it fits in with the greater picture of requirements, design, certification and Technical Standard Orders (TSOs). 

Course participants will gain a clear and relevant understanding of the applicable FAA regulations, advisory material, certification procedures, design approaches/trade-offs, inspection and conformity requirements, as well as details of the necessary parts of a test plan, test report, compliance plan and compliance report. A strong focus is placed on the reduction of risk, cost and schedule throughout the design/ certification process, by use of targeted design and increased first-pass success on design and testing.

To schedule a customized class, contact Allison Bonitati.

RTCA/NIAR Training Website

High Intensity Radio Frequency Training

This course is designed for engineers and technicians involved in aircraft HIRF certification, industry engineers and airframe manufacturers. It provides students with an awareness of all aspects of systems and aircraft HIRF testing.

The class is held at our location biannually in April and September. To schedule a customized class, contact Allison Bonitati.

HIRF Course Website

Environmental Test Technician Training

This training is designed to familiarize the technician with the test set-up and the appropriate equipment as designated by the standards outlined in DO-160. Variations on standard set-ups to accommodate customer needs can be made upon request. Training on equipment and set-ups as designated by customer test standards can be given.

To schedule a customized class, contact Allison Bonitati.

Aircraft Electrical and Electronic System Lightning Protection 

A comprehensive workshop that discusses all aspects of IEL certification, design, and testing from an engineering/DER perspective. Training can be on-site at NIAR or off-site at a selected location and tailored to meet customer needs. The class covers FAA regulations, Advisory Circulars, ARPs, DO-160, all as applicable to IEL certification. Areas included are attachment zones, equipment and functional criticality (safety assessment), aircraft level test methods and interpretation, bench level equipment test methods and levels, etc. The class includes several class exercises to apply the learned material to actual situations. 

Topics include:

  • Why IEL has become important
  • Why IEL certification efforts are required by the FAA
  • How to design and plan to meet requirements.

Learn more

Engineering Services


Design and development of specialized research and testing projects related to the Direct Effects and Indirect Effects of Lightning, as well as High Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF).

Developing standards based on in-depth electromagnetics research projects.

Extensive experience at modeling aircraft for the Indirect Effects of Lightning (IEL), in particular the software package EMA3D.

Computational Electromagnetics (CEM) using Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) tools and frequency domain tools. Application of these to any aircraft related electromagnetic phenomena.

Published a paper at the 2013 International Conference on Lightning and Static Electricity (ICOLSE). The paper number is CONDON_SEA13-10, and the title is “Shell Resistivities Correlated to Indirect Effects of Lightning”. This paper demonstrated a clear relationship between fuselage conductivity and the IEL levels seen on wiring.

Experience with the application of COMSOL to Direct Effects of Lightning

Modeling/development of spiral resonant sensors using FEKO.

WSU/NIAR has as large cluster computer for executing large and complex electromagnetic models.

Test capabilities to validate the above modeling/analysis.

Much experience with modeling and testing both aluminum and carbon fiber aircraft for all aspect of electromagnetic certification. 

Consultation Services

Our facilities employ an experienced staff of engineers, research scientists, and technicians. Most of our staff members are participants in the committees responsible for developing and maintaining industry/FAA standards. 

Our staff is available to aid in design reviews, development testing and screening, and Safety of Flight (SoF) testing and have extensive experience in the design and certification of carbon fiber and aluminum aircraft for EMC, EMI, HIRF, Lightning (direct and indirect effects), and p-static.

Our staff members are able to provide assistance with Finite Difference Time Domain analysis for lightning indirect effects, HIRF, and other electromagnetic phenomena. This includes large-scale cluster computing enabling large and complex 3-D models.

Our staff can provide consultation on certification plans and testing, design of tests, fixtures, and operational setups as well as the creation of test reports, and Data Reduction and Analysis.

DER services available on site.