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World’s most powerful wind tunnel saved from collapse

Published on 27/01/2016 14:00 - By

It's not official yet but the decision has been taken. The Modane aeronautical wind tunnel, in Savoie (Franco-Italian border), will receive financial support from its supervisory ministry, the French Department of Defense, to prevent its collapse. ONERA (French national aerospace research centre) does not have the means to foot the bill, since, despite a budget of 207 million euros in 2014, its deficit was 16 million, and their 2015 consolidated results have yet to be announced.

According to Isabelle Bruneau, a member of the French National Assembly, Defence Committee, whom we contacted by telephone, "a special grant of € 20 million from the Ministry of Defence will be granted in 2016-2017", for the work necessary to stabilise the ground.

The grant will help preserve this technological treasure that, since its commissioning in October 1952, has allowed aircraft manufacturers to test the aerodynamic behaviour of their aircraft under development.

The biggest and most powerful sonic wind tunnel in the world, with a 1,300 feet (400 metres) long tunnel and two giant 45 feet (14 metres) diameter fans, has sunk 3 inches (75 mm). The sandy terrain on which it is built together with the flow of underground snowmelt waters have weakened the foundations, leading to this critical structural situation.

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