Jet flight systems are constantly being tested and maintained, but one of the most impressive technologies is the "Hush House," which creates the conditions to assess these complex wonders at full power.
In the hush house, aerospace propulsion technicians like Michael Smith have the important job of testing jet engines. It’s their responsibility to make sure these massive machines won’t malfunction or explode mid-flight.
"If the Hush House didn’t exist, the only way they would be able to test the engine is in the jet and that’s very dangerous, because that’s causing damage to the aircraft if something goes wrong," Michael Smith explains. "So, if something goes wrong here, it’s contained. We can put it out with a fire suppression, it doesn’t damage the aircraft or the personnel and it’s a lot safer."
U.S. Air Force hush houses are specifically designed to withstand these extreme forces.
"The hush house is a concrete structure with thick walls and thick glass windows," Lee Langston, professor of mechanical engineer at University of Connecticut, told Seeker. "They're constructed such that they are acoustically treated so that they contain the noise, and constructed strong enough to contain an engine that has blown up."
Even if it doesn’t blow up, technicians need to be really careful around the engines they’re testing.
"You see the big flame coming out the back," Smith says. "That’s after burn. It’s when the fuel is lighting in the exhaust to give it that nice blue color."
Working in the hush house means being around extreme conditions like this everyday. The process of testing jet engines may be dangerous now, but as time goes on, this process will likely change in many ways.
"One aspect in the future of jet engine testing will be new fuels coming in," Professor Langston told Seeker. "Biodegradables and hydrogen and these are completely different from the usual jet fuel and we’ll see what it takes to handle them."