The SCIFLI Window is a WMD designed and manufactured dual-port optical quality window system. It was created to replace a large single polycarbonate observation window in the LaRC HU-25 Falcon aircraft. The new window system is required to enhance the research capability of the HU-25 and support a mission that collects infrared imagery of high-temperature bodies re-entering the earth's atmosphere.
The SCIFLI Window assembly is composed of a large window assembly frame that is custom-fit to the existing opening in the aircraft, two o-ring seals, two-piece window cells, and two 15.9-inch (40.37-cm) optical quality windows. Both windows are easily removed for post flight inspections and come with o-ring sealed replacement plugs for use in transit flights. The entire assembly is designed to install with no modifications to the aircraft, which allows the original observation windows to be re-installed as necessary. The SCIFLI Window assembly and window replacement plugs were designed to operate within the normal pressure, vibration, thermal and structural operating limits of the HU-25 aircraft. Performance was confirmed by extensive finite element analysis.
WMD used finite element analysis coupled with optical analysis tools to predict the wavefront distortion caused by the optical windows when subjected to pressure and thermal gradients during flight.
Matching the curvature of the aircraft fuselage proved to be challenging. Where we normally trust our measurements and manufacture mating parts without iteration, in this case we chose to make a series of radius-matching templates. This proved a wise move since we needed to adjust the radius 0.125 inch to optimally match the mating surface on the fuselage.
For this project, WMD designed and manufactured an entirely new window assembly for the University of Wyoming to be installed in the aft nadir port of a King Air aircraft. The assembly was needed to accommodate a new LiDAR system being implemented by UWYO.
The design consists of a window plate, a two-piece window cell and a 16-inch (40.6-cm) window. Extensive FEA was employed to produce a strong, lightweight, ribbed design that operates within the normal pressure, vibration, thermal, and structural operating limits of the King Air aircraft.