Next generation aircraft engine efficiency goals will be met through high bypass ratio engines. To achieve these goals, a combination of small core and low pressure ratio fan technologies will be necessary. Additionally, advanced propulsion airframe integration concepts, such as boundary layer propulsion, and distributed electrically driven fans with short inlets or wing integration strategies, are beginning to be investigated for their potential fuel burn savings.
In order to realize the potential fuel savings from these technologies, it is necessary to have testing capabilities for the components. The NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) Single Stage Axial Fan and Compressor Facility (also called the GRC W-8 Facility) has recently undergone several significant upgrades in order to effectively test low pressure ratio fans and various inlet distortions. This paper will outline various challenges to testing low pressure ratio fans and the methods implemented to ensure that the W-8 facility is capable of performing these tests and acquiring high quality data. The upgrades include significant piping upgrades to reduce pressure loss and turbulence, capability for inlet total pressure and swirl distortion, increased test section length including a longer shaft, a two component balance, an upgraded rotating data system, and a new temperature characterization to reduce uncertainties in thermocouple measurements.