Turbomachinery Test Rigs

For over 20 years, Calspan has designed and manufactured full-scale turbomachinery test rigs for the world's gas turbine engine manufacturers.  As a vertically integrated supplier, Calspan combines the ability to engineer, manufacture, instrument, and assemble complex rigs and other experimental equipment.  By interpreting requirements, collaborating to solve complex technical problems, and achieving your experimental needs, our team of experts is dedicated to your success.  Our projects include fan, compressor, combustor, turbine, and many other special purpose test rigs.

Our team thrives on working closely with our gas turbine and other turbomachinery test rig customers to define and deliver complex test articles to validate new technologies and products. Often starting from our customer’s aerodynamic definition, we have the in-house capability to fully engineer the test article (including the instrumentation suite), manufacture the parts, apply the instrumentation, assemble the rig and often support testing in our customer’s or third party test facilities. The entire process is executed within our robust ISO9001:2015/AS9100 (Rev. D) quality management system.

Our expert team of engineers & designers work as an extension of your team to understand your project and solve your technical challenges.  We leverage our engineering tools and experience to ensure your research and development goals are fully met.

Our specialist turbomachinery engineers work collaboratively with your team to:

  • Capture and manage all technical requirements for your project
  • Develop the rig concept, including performing trade studies
  • Validate the test rig design, using specific engineering disciplines:
    • Mechanical engineering
    • Aeroelastic/aerothermal engineering
    • Instrumentation/measurement engineering
    • Manufacturing engineering
    • Mechatronics (kinematic, electronic, computer, and control engineering)
    • Assembly and test facility system integration engineering

We use proven analysis tools and methods to validate the rig design:

  • 2D and 3D structural - ANSYS
  • Strain gage placement and limit setting - GageMap
  • Internally developed for tip clearance, axial gapping, bolted joints, blade balancing, etc.
  • Heat transfer - ANSYS
  • Secondary flow networks - GFSSP
  • Rotor dynamics - DYROBES
  • Blade and vane hot to cold - ANSYS
  • Fatigue life analysis - using agreed Calspan/customer methods

Our experienced manufacturing planners, programmers, and machinists produce high-quality components with a rapid turnaround time.  Our integrated processes allow us to maximize concurrent engineering, and we leverage our sophisticated CNC machine shop to support your compressed schedule.

  • Our machine tools include:
    • 5-axis CNC milling machines
    • Lathes
    • Mill-turn centers
    • Wire and plunge EDM machines 
  • Our highly skilled machinists have decades of experience in prototype machining
  • We manufacture to print or CAD model
  • We work with composites, polymers, cermets, and all types of metallic materials:
    • Steel
    • Aluminum
    • Titanium
    • Nickel, cobalt, and other high temperature super-alloys

Our instrumentation specialists understand the criticality of instrumentation selection, application and test facility integration to the success of your rig test campaign. These instrumentation specialists are part of the integrated project team (IPT) from project launch through to the satisfactory completion of testing. They work collaboratively with your technologists and facility data acquisition team to assure the test delivers accurate and reliable data to meet your needs. 

As part of the test rig IPT, our instrumentation specialists:

  • Capture measurement requirements
  • Select installation methods
  • Select sensor type and routing
  • Define component and system modifications
  • Manage test facility interfaces, calibrations, and documentation

The Calspan team routinely applies the following sensors and systems to our rigs:

  • Static and total pressures
  • Air/metal and total temperatures
  • Strain gages (static and rotating)
  • Accelerometers
  • Specialty instrumentation systems (e.g. NSMS, tip clearance)
  • Telemetry and slip ring units
  • Rakes
    • Pressure
    • Temperature
    • Swirl
    • Boundary layer
    • Gas analysis
    • Traversing (radial and area)

Our highly skilled assembly team ensures your test rig is properly assembled, with all instrumentation carefully led out and the rig packaged for a turn-key delivery. The assembly procedure is developed collaboratively and documented during each step of the build process. We use designated project assembly rooms (secure vaults) to ensure confidentiality, and we welcome your participation/observation in the rig assembly process.

Our assembly techicians work alongside our instrumentation specialists to integrate measurement devices into the rig build:

  • Instrumented component installation
  • Measurement device installation
  • Specialty instrumentation system integration
  • Set back adjustments
  • Modular lead out and check out 
  • Final check out and documentation

Our team builds your rig in our purpose-built assembly rooms, featuring:

  • 10 secure assembly areas
  • Multiple cranes
  • A comprehensive suite of generic rig build and handling equipment

Finally, we prepare the assembled rig for transportation to your test facility, and we often assist with the installation and integration upon arrival.

systems team behind turbomachinery


Calspan has executed a wide range of turbomachinery rig projects for our gas turbine aero engine, industrial engine and other turbomachinery OEM customers over the last 20 years:

  • Fan Rigs – full scale and sub-scale, single-stage (civil) and multi-stage (military), often used to validate performance, noise and blade containment.
  • Compressor Rigs – engine scale, sub-scale and super-scale multi-stage axial and single stage radial compressor rigs used to characterize performance/operability and establish variable vane schedules.
  • Combustor Rigs – single burner, multi-sector or full annular, used to characterize aerothermal performance, combustion products and combustor operability.
  • Turbine Rigs – full scale and subscale, cold flow (visualization), warm-flow and hot-flow, single and multi-stage (including contra-rotating), used to calibrate sub-system simulation models and validate stage and overall system performance.
  • Other Complex System Rigs – including propulsion simulators, un-ducted fan models, rotating secondary flow rigs, rocket turbo-pump rigs, bearing and seal rigs, steam turbine rigs and flow visualization rigs.
  • Development Engines and Cores – we also instrument and assemble the engine OEM’s demonstrator engines and development cores.