To determine the ability of component parts and materials to avoid dielectric-withstanding-voltage failures due to the lowered insulating strength of air.
The barometric pressure test is performed under conditions simulating the low atmospheric pressure encountered in the non-pressurized portions of aircraft and other vehicles in high altitude flight. This test is intended primarily to determine the ability of component parts and materials to avoid dielectric-withstanding-voltage failures due to the lowered insulating strength of air and other insulating materials at reduced pressures. Even when low pressures do not produce complete electrical breakdown, corona and its undesirable effects, including losses and ionization, are intensified. Low barometric pressures also serve to decrease the life of electrical contacts, since intensity of arcing is increased under these circumstances. For this reason, endurance tests of elector-mechanical component parts are sometimes conducted at reduced pressures.
Low-pressure tests are also performed to determine the ability of seals in component parts to withstand rupture due to the considerable pressure differentials which may be developed under these conditions. The simulated high altitude conditions of this test can also be employed to investigate the influence on component parts operating characteristics, of other effects of reduced pressure, including changes in dielectric constants of materials; reduced mechanical loading on vibrating elements, such as crystals; and decreased ability of thinner air to transfer heat away from heat-producing components.