Peterborough company specializes in air data test systems

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • TestVonics in Peterborough specializes in making air data test systems that are now contracted by all four branches of the United States military. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/24/2019 9:17:14 PM

When there’s something not quite right with your car, the mechanic will take it for a test drive to determine what’s wrong with it.

Well that’s not exactly something you can do when dealing with a plane or fighter jet – especially when they’re used by the United States military. And that’s where Paul McCullough and his team at TestVonics come in.

For the last 25 years, McCullough, a Navy veteran, has been growing his Peterborough business into what it is today. They have signed contracts with all four branches of the U.S. military this year, after having awarded previous contracts with the Air Force and Navy.

“This will be the first time we’ve had contracts with every branch of the military at the same time,” McCullough said.

TestVonics specializes in air data test systems and despite being a company with only 14 employees and residing in small town New Hampshire, it has built up enough of a reputation to secure the contracts over some larger companies, including one that ranked on the Fortune 500 list for 2018.

“They are hard contracts to get,” the TechVonics owner said. “It’s a very competitive market, but over the last few years we’ve seen steady growth.”

They currently have orders for their systems that will keep them busy for the next two years thanks to contracts that range from $500,000 to $2 million and spread out to different areas of the world.

Nestled in the Monadnock Business Center on Route 202 heading toward Jaffrey, there’d be no way of knowing that the longest standing tenant in the building would be working on multi-million dollar contracts with the government. But McCullough quickly found his niche after leaving the corporate world of selling aircraft instruments.

It was when he decided to go out on his own, that McCullough realized there was a need for the equipment he’s made for more than two decades. A sales trip to Air Canada turned into a job to fix a pair of test systems. It was in that moment that McCullough saw his future.

“I immediately went out and bought test equipment,” he said.

He got to work on a prototype, built a shop, designed a system and now he’s got more work than he ever would have imagined.

McCullough’s system, which has been tweaked and fine tuned over the years, allows the military branches to test their flight instruments, including altitude and speed, without ever leaving the ground.

“The technology changes from an equipment standpoint, but the same test standards are primarily there from 50 years ago,” he said.

A pair of hoses from the TestVonics air data test system can be connected to any aircraft used by the military – fighter and cargo planes, helicopters – as well as commercial airliners.

Once the system is turned on, it sends air rushing through the hoses to simulate pressure conditions to test the instruments at any set altitude and speed.

“The airplane basically feels like it’s flying,” McCullough said.

The data is entered into the machine and the person in the cockpit can tell just how close the instruments are registering the true measurements.

McCullough said his machine is calibrated 10 times greater than any aircraft, which is of the utmost importance when testing something that will be flying at extreme heights and speeds. So it needs to be as accurate as possible.

“Our systems are critical to the safety of flight,” McCullough said. “And they have to know the equipment is as accurate as it can be.”

In order to properly calibrate the air data test systems, McCullough invested in an ADCS-601. It is the most precise calibrator in existence and ensures that accuracy translates into the machines on the ground. It is the same one used in U.S. Air Force calibration labs.

“Without it, I couldn’t do what I’m doing,” McCullough said.

McCullough’s team even created a software that allows for a hand held remote to be used in the cockpit in order for the testers to change the measurements independently.

In addition to the U.S. military branches, TestVonics also has contracts with the Swiss and Royal Canadian air force, the latter awarded in May, as well as previously working with the Indian and Signapore air forces.

In the workshop in Peterborough, the team of 14 are producing about 10 air data test systems per month and McCullough said each unit has a shelf life of about 15 to 20 years if properly maintained and calibrated.

For more, visit, www.testvonics.com.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
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603-924-7172

 

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