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DSTO wins international award for aeronautical work

News Item

7 November, 2001
Media Release Number:
DSTO 22/01

The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) has awarded the prestigious Von Karman award to the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) for its international programme assessing the fatigue life of the F/A-18 A/B Hornet aircraft.

DSTO's F/A-18 test rig
DSTO's F/A-18 test rig

The Royal Australian Air Force is named as the cooperating organisation with DSTO.
This is the first time Australia has won the award, which recognises outstanding examples of international cooperation in the field of aeronautics.

DSTO's structural testing programme, undertaken in collaboration with the Canadian Forces which shares the award, is aimed at extending the safe operating life of the Hornet fleet by up to 25 percent, an achievement that could save the Defence force up to $1.3 billion.

Dr Bill Schofield, recently retired Director of DSTO's Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory said that substantial cost savings had already been achieved in both Australia and Canada through life extension, with further benefits on the horizon as more detailed results are collected and applied.

"This award demonstrates that Australia's aeronautical research and development capability is as good as any in the world," he said.

Air Commodore Bill Belton, Councillor of the Australian Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society and its representative on the ICAS General Assembly, indicated that the award would increase the exposure of the Australian aerospace industry to international audiences, and further highlight Australia's R&D capability.

In what is the most advanced full-scale fatigue test in the world, Australia is testing the rear fuselage and tail assembly of the aircraft, while Canada is testing the centre fuselage and wings.

The unique rigs that are used to test the aircraft structure have been widely recognised as the only method available for accurately applying simultaneously both manoeuvre and buffet forces. Other countries are keen to employ DSTO's fatigue testing technology to test other aircraft.

The testing programme will enable Air Force to further define life of type issues as progress is made with Air 6000, which is, in part, considering replacement options for the capabilities currently provided by the Hornet. The Air Force's Hornet fleet is currently planned for withdrawal around 2012.

Dr Schofield said that it was a privilege to receive an award that honours one of the greatest aeronautical scientists of the twentieth century - Dr. Theodore von Karman.

The award will be presented next September at the 23rd Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences in Toronto, Canada.

Further information:

Manager, Defence Science Communications (Melbourne)

Ms Edwina Callus
Defence Science Communications

DSTO Melbourne
506 Lorimer Street
Fishermans Bend
Victoria 3207

03 9626 7131
03 9626 7133

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is part of Australia's Department of Defence. DSTO's role is to ensure the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defence of Australia and its national interests.

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