Instruments of Test Articles

Calspan is a vertically integrated supplier of test equipment and most of the equipment we design and manufacture is highly instrumented. The instrumentation we apply to our test equipment (wind tunnel models, turbomachinery test rigs and other special test equipment) is central to the experimental mission. The data provided by our instrumentation is crucial in validating the technology/product and monitoring the health and operability of the test article/apparatus.

Our instrumentation specialists are part of the Integrated Product Team throughout the project and contribute to the capture of measurement requirements, selection of instrumentation methods/devices, instrumentation installation definition and the specification of component/system modifications. The Calspan instrumentation team also works closely with the test facility and customer specialists to manage all instrumentation system interfaces, calibrations and documentation.


Our instrumentation design and application capabilities include all the types of sensors typical in aerospace test articles:

  • Static/total/dynamic pressures
  • Air/metal/fluid temperatures
  • Static and rotating strain gages (-423˚F to +2000˚F)
  • Fiber Optic Sensors (including FPI, Bragg Grating and Rayleigh Backscatter)
  • Accelerometers
  • Linear and rotary displacement sensors
  • Gas sampling probes

Additionally, we routinely integrate a myriad of other instrumentation systems such as blade tip clearance, blade tip timing and other specialty instrumentation systems.

Our Instrumentation Engineers select measurement methods and optimize their application to maximize measurement accuracy and installation ruggedness while minimizing the influence of the instrument on the measurement.

Calspan’s instrumentation capability resides in-house in our 93,000 ft² facility in Newport News, VA. At this facility we have the following capabilities:

  • Technical requirements capture and management
  • Instrumentation engineering (including optimizing strain gage placement)
  • Solution development and validation using proven analysis tools and methods
  • Precision machining utilizing our sophisticated CNC machine shop with multiple 5-axis milling machines, lathes, mill-turn centers and wire EDM’s
  • Probe manufacture, sensor application, lead out and check out
  • Modular assembly, checks and sub-system testing
  • Final test article assembly and preparation for delivery to the test facility

These processes are all executed within our robust ISO9001:2008/AS9100 (Rev. C) Quality Management System.

Our highly skilled instrumentation technicians often travel to our customer’s (or third party) test facility locations to support instrumentation application and the installation and integration of our test articles into test facilities.


Calspan routinely installs instrumentation on a wide range of test articles and test equipment. Some examples of the type of test equipment we instrument:

  • Wind tunnel models
  • Turbomachinery test rigs (fan, compressor, combustor and turbine rigs)
  • Helicopter rotor test stands
  • Embedded sensors in helicopter blades and other composite structures
  • Special test devices (component, subsystem and platform test apparatus)
  • Development aero engines
  • Steam turbine equipment and test articles
  • Structures for Experimental Stress Analysis