Safety Help for the DP-2 Ground Test
By Jim Barnes
July 16, 1999
I was proud and flattered to be asked by NASA to help the Naval Air Systems Command do a Safety Assessment of a ground test that's being done in San Diego. They were planning a test on the DP-2 demonstrator model built by duPont Aerospace Co. I was able to assist them in evaluating what the hazards were and what preventative steps could be take to ensure a safe test.
I suggested to them that it would be a very good idea before they let this plane fly with a live pilot in it to bring the plane to be tested in I suggested to them that it would be a very good idea before they let this plane fly with a live pilot in it to bring the plane to be tested in one of the wind tunnels here at NASA Ames Research Center. This will help them make sure that the concept will work well. This will reduce risk to the pilot, and to the program, because they will find out if the plane needs any design refinements to ensure that will fly well.
An example of the sort of advice I gave them for the ground test related to possible engine damage. They had done a good job of clearing the area where they were going to do the engine run up. This would prevent fod or foreign object damage (small things that might be sucked into the intake). I was able to point out to them that in our experience most cases of damage were related to loose parts from the model or parts that were not strong enough and came loose during the test. I recommended that they focus on parts of the model, which might become loose during the test, especially for parts that would be heated and cooled repeatedly during the test. My experience as a Navy pilot was also helpful because I have carrier flight experience. I was able to understand the specific safety issues related to flight deck operations.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with the Navy, where I had done my military service. I think that it was reassuring to them to consult with one of their retired pilots who understands Navy flight operations.