On Friday March 16th, the AIAA University of Michigan Student section brought 10 students to Williams International in Walled Lake Michigan. If you like jet engines than this was the tour you should have been on! This is also the 10th aerospace engineering company that our AIAA section has visited since January. I’m pretty sure we have the monopoly on cool tours! Go Blue!
The Tour is About to Begin!
Our tour started with some quick seminars to learn a little bit more about Williams. For those of you that haven’t heard of Williams Int., they are the world’s leader in small jet engines. Their jets can be found on many Cessna and Cirrus models, but their main claim to fame was for producing an engine for the U.S. cruise missile.
We had some great lectures from various engineers on the topics of work cycles, combustion, material properties, and testing. The real fun started with a live test of the Williams International F107-WR-105 turbofan engine. After putting on our eye and ear protection, one of the test engineers, who was a recent UofM graduate started up the beautiful little engine. The purpose of the test was to get a final inspection of operation of the engine before sending it out to the customer. We really couldn’t be happier. As you can tell from the picture above this engine is SMALL! Since there isn’t any bypass air to speak of in this gas turbine, this little guy screamed! It was awesome! As we watched the test engineer ramp up the RPMs and take data we were all fixated on the computer screens, which displayed a plethora of information such as exhaust temperature, compressor RPM, and a bunch of other vitals.
After 10 minutes of drooling, we moved on to yet another test cell! This time we were going to watch the startup of a Williams International FJ44-3A. The previous engine we saw could produce a max thrust of 607 lbf., this much larger engine is capable of 2820 lbf. We were ready for some power! We were in a much larger test room this time, as the engine was much larger. As the engineer ramped the power up to full, we were amazed and the noise and rumbling vibrations, but due to this engines larger bypass ratio, we were spared from the high pitch noises that the F-107 engine produced.
After the live engine tests we were completely satisfied and could have easily left with the fullest of appreciation and enthusiasm, but there was indeed more to see! We were lucky enough to go through most of the manufacturing rooms, where we got our fair share of lathes, presses, and welding machines. We must have seen over 100 engines scattered throughout the facility, most of them being small F-107 engines.
Thank You Williams International for hosting such a great tour. As an engine enthusiast myself, I was extremely satisfied with everything I was able to see. Cheers to you!