NASA research engineer to discuss reasons for airliner power loss at next Science Cafe Cleveland

Science Cafe Cleveland logoThe next Science Café Cleveland event will feature a talk titled “Why do airliners sometimes experience loss of power at high altitudes?” by Michael J. Oliver, an aerospace research engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center.

Turbofan engines powering commercial aircraft have been found to sometimes experience temporary loss of power. While this phenomenon is still not fully understood, one important clue is that these events seem to occur while operating at high altitudes in the vicinity of convective storms, and this suggests icing may be a factor.

It is suspected that the aircraft are flying through nearly invisible clouds of ice crystals outpouring from the convective storm cells. The theory is that ice crystals are ingested by the engines, which causes ice to build up on hardware that is normally significantly warmer than freezing temperature. The ice buildup leads to an inflight loss of power. This phenomenon is termed “ice crystal icing” and is suspected as the cause of more than 250 loss of power revenue service events worldwide.

NASA Glenn is the only facility in the world to have successfully tested a full-scale engine at simulated high altitude ice crystal icing conditions. In his talk, Oliver will discuss how the center is doing this and what researchers have learned so far.

The event, sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream and the Market Garden Brewery, will take place Monday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Market Garden Brewery, 1947 W. 25th St.

Attendees are advised to arrive early, as past sessions have approached capacity.

More information about the event can be found at the Sigma Xi web page.