The Roots of ETW's Success

Inaccurate prediction of the real flight conditions based on conventional wind tunnel test data led to the development of poorly performing aircraft in the past. The shortcomings were detected late in the design process, i.e. during flight testing, and led to costly design changes.

Consequently, experts within NATO's Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development AGARD identified the demand for flight Reynolds number wind tunnel testing, and in 1963 started to discuss the requirements and design options for an appropriate ground-test facility. In 1973 the four European countries France, Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands agreed to jointly proceed with the project of designing and constructing a high Reynolds number wind tunnel named the European Transonic Windtunnel ETW. They charged a group of experts with further investigations into this matter.

During the following years, they chose the so-called cryogenic, i.e. low-temperature technology as ETW's working principle, completed the various design phases, selected Cologne in Germany as the site of the facility, and in 1989 started with construction.

Mechanical completion was achieved in 1992 and on 20 October of that year, HM Queen Elizabeth II together with HRH Prince Philip visited ETW and expressed their appreciation of this outstanding facility. First wind-on occurred in December 1992. During the following phase of commissioning, maximum pressure, highest Mach number and lowest temperature were achieved in December 1993.

On 22 September 1994, the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences ICAS awarded ETW with the highly valued "Von Kármán Medal for International Cooperation in Aeronautics".

Since 1995 the European Transonic Windtunnel has been in full operation and has, in many test campaigns, proved to meet all demanding specifications and client requirements. New advances in wind tunnel testing, measuring and data processing technology are continuously introduced in ETW as soon as they are operationally mature and ETW has been at the forefront in the development of some of these techniques.