What happens when the largest global aircraft manufacturer needs to safely perform engine runs in a compass calibration area that does not allow ferrous material? It utilises a unique all-aluminum jet blast deflector developed by Blast Deflectors Inc of Reno, Nevada.

Founded in 1916 in Seattle, Washington, the Boeing Company has been building commercial and military aircraft for almost a century. With the recent growth of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, the company was forced to maximise available space at its wide-body manufacturing facility in Everett, Washington. The challenge for Boeing was increasing ramp space without creating a jet blast hazard around the Boeing property.

Enter Blast Deflectors Inc. For more than 25 years BDI has supplied Boeing with jet blast deflectors that allow aircraft to be safely tested prior to customer delivery without creating a jet blast hazard at adjacent taxiways, roadways, parking lots and structures. These tests include high-power engine runs.

BDI’s jet blast deflectors are curved solid structures that can range anywhere from 3ft to 35ft depending on the application and aircraft types.

BDI’s standard line of jet blast deflectors are made from hot-dipped galvanized steel and feature self-locking fasteners and anchors that bolt directly to concrete foundations.

In 2007 Boeing contacted BDI with a problem requiring a unique solution. The company needed a non-ferrous jet blast deflector on its compass rose (the site where all aircraft compass calibration takes place) to protect an off-airport roadway from high velocity jet blast. BDI’s standard galvanized steel deflector was not an option, since it would disrupt the proper compass calibration.

BDI proposed a unique all-aluminum design that met the two primary requirements for the project: it needed to be capable of withstanding high-power exhaust and not conflicting with the compass calibration process (made of non-ferrous material). The model U19-2ALU aluminum deflector met the project specifications and did not compromise the compass calibration process.

Don Bergin, director of technical sales for BDI, said: “We had never received an inquiry to supply a non-ferrous deflector designed for engine testing. The challenge for us was meeting Boeing’s schedule, which meant designing, building and installing the deflector in just 90 days.”

In January last year, less than 90 days after receiving the order, BDI installed 554 lineal feet (168 lineal meters) of U19-2ALU on compass rose at Boeing Everett facility. This all-aluminum blast deflector with a height of 5.79m can withstand high-power exhaust from all Boeing aircraft produced at the Everett facility, including the B77-300ER.