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SPECIAL REPORT

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson/Released

Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology

The Doctor is in – Taking the Pulse™ of Aircraft Health and Equipment Condition Defense Cuts and a New Age of Aircraft Health Monitoring Why Health Monitoring is Crucial to the Future The Evolution of Aircraft Health Monitoring Sponsored by

Future Developments for Aircraft Health Monitoring

Published by Global Business Media


MISSIONS CAN’T WAIT FOR MAINTENANCE The most comprehensive vehicle health solution helps ensure the safety of your crews and the readiness of your fleet. Vehicle Health Management (VHM) systems by UTC Aerospace Systems are the eyes and ears of your aircraft from nose to tail. VHM diagnoses the health of your choice of aircraft systems, components and structures, providing actionable data with high fidelity, all while minimizing maintenance impacts to your operations. Be confident in early warnings and accurate prognostics — equip your aircraft with UTC Aerospace Systems VHM. Learn more at utcaerospacesystems.com. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson/Released


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

SPECIAL REPORT

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson/Released

Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology

Contents Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

The Doctor is in – Taking the Pulse™ of Aircraft Health and Equipment Condition Defense Cuts and a New Age of Aircraft Health Monitoring Why Health Monitoring is Crucial to the Future The Evolution of Aircraft Health Monitoring Future Developments for Aircraft Health Monitoring

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

The Doctor is in – Taking the Pulse™ of Aircraft Health and Equipment Condition

3

UTC Aerospace Systems

Why Health Monitoring? Planned Maintenance Versus Reactionary Repairs

Published by Global Business Media

Creating Intelligent Systems, Driving Down Costs

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Using Health Management Solutions to Maximize an Operator’s Capital

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. © 2017. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Investment Next Generation Aircraft Health Systems

Defense Cuts and a New Age 7 of Aircraft Health Monitoring Tom Cropper, Editor

Tight Purse Strings A New Strategy Smart Money Health Check

Why Health Monitoring is Crucial to the Future

9

Jo Roth, Staff Writer

The Cost of Failure Extending Existing Systems Delivering the Right System Assessing Performance

The Evolution of Aircraft Health Monitoring

11

James Butler, Correspondent

Preventative Measures Condition-Based Checking The Pulse™ Health Monitoring System

Future Developments for Aircraft Health Monitoring

13

Tom Cropper, Editor

An Uncertain Future Tomorrow’s Technology Quality Control

References 15

Cover photo - USS AMERICA LHA6 (photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries) WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORINGHELMET TECHNOLOGY NEXT GENERATION MOUNTED LIGHTING SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY OPERATIONS

Foreword I

F YOU drive a modern car, it can tell you a lot

have been in decline over the past few years forcing

about its condition. Sensors can let you know if

commanders to be more sparing with their spending.

the engine is too hot, if tire pressures are dropping

Systems which can extend lifespan, minimize costs

or if you have an oil leak. The aim, of course, is to

and improve safety will be the technology on which

help you spot and remedy problems before they

the future is founded.

become too serious. Similar technology is now

Jo Roth will then look at the key benefits that new

making its presence felt in the aviation industry –

technologies can bring as well as the key issues to

and for the same reason.

remember when putting new systems to work. James

Aircraft health monitoring is becoming a growing

Butler will examine the development of digital health

issue in military aviation. Operators, on the other hand,

monitoring technologies before we look forward at

want to measure the performance of the latest aircraft,

what the future holds.

avoid unexpected failure, reduce maintenance times and improve the lifespan of aging aircraft.

That future is far from certain. New technology is coming and evolving fast. As it does, the capabilities

Our opening article comes from UTC Aerospace

of aircraft health systems will grow quickly. Such rapid

Systems. They explain the major leap forward aircraft

evolution may bring plenty of opportunities, but it will

health monitoring is taking. Today, most equipment

also create a host of new challenges. How well aviators

is hard to reach and difficult to monitor. The next

meet those challenges will depend on how they adapt

generation of aircraft health monitoring solutions can

to change.

indicate the presence of a problem and minimize the amount of time spent repairing systems. As our next article shows, this technology comes at an important time for air forces. Defense budgets

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

The Doctor is in – Taking the Pulse™ of Aircraft Health and Equipment Condition UTC Aerospace Systems

Why Health Monitoring? When you consider the systems that make up today’s aircraft, most of them are under cowlings, behind panels or enclosed in housings; they are protected and, therefore, difficult to access, observe and monitor. For example, the ability to diagnose the health of a bearing, shaft or gear inside a gearbox is limited to oil analysis programs. Because you can’t see inside the gearbox, evaluation of internal components is limited to periodic disassembly, inspection and reassembly that requires an aircraft to come off the line for days or weeks. In an effort to increase fleet readiness and reduce maintenance burdens, the aerospace industry is evolving a strategy to monitor and diagnose the health of aircraft. But what parameters should be monitored? How does a fleet owner trend the condition and usage of aircraft and take action at the appropriate time to ensure the safety of flight crews and passengers, all while maximizing the mission readiness of their aircraft? Most aircraft subsystems provide little insight to the relative health of machinery – so, when failures do occur, operators must resort to unplanned maintenance actions that can result in mission aborts, or flight delays and cancellations. For over-water helicopter operations, safety concerns drove the incorporation of Health and Usage Management Systems, or HUMS, to alert crews to problems with gearboxes or other drivetrain components. As HUMS evolved, it became apparent that, by adding sensors and software to evaluate the vital statistics of these components, potential failure modes could be predicted and repaired well in advance of an actual failure. HUMS also demonstrated the value of being able to readily access health data that offered immediate “go/no-go” criteria used to allow the helicopter to be dispatched for the next flight operation.

There are tradeoffs to be made, however, when deciding to add new technology to an aircraft. The addition of a suite of sensors, a central processor and data storage adds cost, weight and complexity to the aircraft. However, the value proposition of improved safety and improved maintainability translates to higher aircraft mission readiness rates. Applying the lessons learned from the original HUMS, vehicle health providers are refining requirements to create families of solutions that are configurable, expandable and open. Advances in digital sensing and processing also offer the additional benefits of less weight and smaller packaging. The ideal vehicle health solution is accessible to both original equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket, and is flexible enough to address as many, or as few, different aircraft systems or platforms as a customer requires. As much as possible, these systems should also take advantage of health-related data already generated by onboard equipment and accessed via aircraft data buses. Further, updates to the system configuration need to be efficient. In short, the fly-away cost of the system needs to be significantly less than the alternative costs of maintenance, labor and spare parts inventories that would be incurred without the system.

Planned Maintenance Versus Reactionary Repairs Every day on flight lines around the world, maintenance crews spend a significant amount of time troubleshooting problem reports to isolate and correct issues. Usually, problems are reported only after a failure mode has progressed to the point where equipment is damaged or no longer serviceable. Modern Prognostic and Health Management (PHM) systems can correlate vibration data to provide early warning of issues like bearing failures in an environmental control system, or process electrical current WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Easy to install and accessible through the central vehicle health system, this system will allow support

CRACKED SPLINE ADAPTER

DEBONDED TAIL ROTOR BOOT CUFF

SAND BUILD-UP IN OIL COOLER

crews to connect to the aircraft and rapidly evaluate airframe fatigue, corrosion or impact damage incurred in flight or during ground operations

draw to infer actuator, pump or motor failures. Vehicle health solutions require both a sensing capability and supporting software algorithms to separate normal operating modes from indications of failure. Sensor data fusion offers operators the ability to access onboard determinations to identify and report issues as early as possible. The result is often a minor maintenance action taken early and in a planned fashion, compared to an unmonitored system that would progress to a major repair to complete component replacement. If one were to extend health monitoring solutions beyond the installed mechanical and electrical systems onboard an aircraft to include the airframe structure itself, the result would be a comprehensive vehicle health solution. In 2016, UTC Aerospace Systems licensed the Metis Design Corporation’s MD7-Pro™ structural health monitoring (SHM) system and now offers the MD7-Pro™ as an additional feature of the Pulse™ Health Monitoring System (PHMS), the latest generation of HUMS by UTC Aerospace Systems. The addition of MD7-Pro™ capabilities supplements traditional aircraft equipment health monitoring with the ability to automate inspections of aircraft skins, frames and fasteners, and evaluation of bonded composite structures to produce a total vehicle health solution. MD7-Pro™ represents a repeatable, reliable baseline inspection technique that complements traditional manual inspections and significantly reduces inspection times and

direct labor requirements. Easy to install and accessible through the central vehicle health system, this system will allow support crews to connect to the aircraft and rapidly evaluate airframe fatigue, corrosion or impact damage incurred in flight or during ground operations. Early detection of damage will support a realtime evaluation prior to dispatch of an aircraft or identify the need to perform more comprehensive damage inspections. Combined, the PHM and SHM capabilities offered by the UTC Aerospace Systems Pulse™ Health Monitoring System effectively find needles before they are lost in the haystack.

Creating Intelligent Systems, Driving Down Costs The combined costs of labor spent troubleshooting and repairing aircraft, the direct material costs of replacement parts consumed and the operating impacts attributed to cancelled commercial flights are staggering – 2015 estimates show $152M of cost were incurred by U.S. airlines due to aircraft problems1. The need to develop better health management capabilities for aircraft systems – to create intelligent systems – is a driving force behind next generation vehicle health solutions offered by UTC Aerospace Systems. The creation of intelligent aircraft systems means that, when the early signs of a failure or malfunction are detected, fault isolation can be automated, with the affected system selfreporting any warnings or problems to the vehicle

A MAIN COMPONENT OF NEXT GENERATION VEHICLE HEALTH MANAGEMENT SOLUTION BY UTC AEROSPACE SYSTEMS, THE PULSE™ HEALTH MONITOR

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

PULSE™ HEALTH MONITORING INSTALLED IN A COMPONENT TEST ENVIRONMENT

health management system. Resolution of a health concern can be scheduled and performed at centralized maintenance facilities to optimize the time an aircraft is out of service. Further infrastructure efficiencies can be derived from the data fusion that results from integrating onboard health management systems with ground-based data analytics, repair procedures and autonomic fleet logistics systems.

Using Health Management Solutions to Maximize an Operator’s Capital Investment The cost of acquiring new aircraft drives many operators to maximize the useful life of existing fleets. Vehicle health management systems, like the PHMS coupled with the Metis MD7-Pro™ SHM system, offer customers efficient monitoring of aging airframes to target any feature that may need isolation and repair. To inspect for damage, corrosion or fastener integrity, significant maintenance actions are frequently required to access structures located behind other equipment or under panels. Permanently-installed health monitoring solutions offer a highlyrepeatable, automated inspection that can alleviate current corrosion or periodic, flight hourdriven manual inspections. These automated inspections can reduce inspection times and the amount of labor needed to accomplish aircraft inspections. Fleet-based analytics can be used to correlate damage through different usage profiles captured by the health monitor as parametric flight data. The use of strain gauges, vibration sensors and SHM sensors can correlate load cases to damage and detect flaws or defects. This detailed insight into the aircraft systems and overall airframe structures can be used to maximize the operator’s capital investment.

Next Generation Aircraft Health Systems Vehicle Health Management (VHM) solutions are evolving from legacy helicopter Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) into modular, digital systems that can be scaled to meet customer needs. The UTC Aerospace Systems PHMS is a lightweight, scalable vehicle health management solution that can monitor a single auxiliary power unit (APU) or be scaled all the way up to monitor a full aircraft system, including structural elements. Next generation systems will take advantage of open software architectures, layering operating systems, and sensor interfaces, communication and applications. Onboard system integration with off-board ground-based analytics engines and data storage will need to be seamless in order to maximize flexibility for both operators and maintenance teams. One of the design tenets of the PHMS is ease of system installation. This goal is achieved through minimizing the system footprint and weight while maximizing flexibility in installation locations. The system can tap into existing analog sensors or new sensors can be included with the monitoring system. It is also capable of connecting to existing data buses to collect diagnostic-relevant information already available on the aircraft. The PHMS has been designed specifically for distributed architecture systems that do not require all of the complexity and sensor inputs of a traditional military rotorcraft HUMS. The actual line replaceable unit weighs only about one pound compared to the much larger legacy HUMS box, which can weigh up to 18 pounds, and interfaces with digital sensing networks that offer up to an additional 40 percent decrease in cable harness weight. To further maximize WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Next generation systems will take advantage of open software architectures, layering operating systems, and sensor interfaces, communication and applications

flexibility and minimize costs, the system can be designed to balance onboard processing versus off-board data analytics, and the modular nature of the system allows customers to scale functions and features from a single system monitor to a full vehicle health management system. Whether installed to provide early detection of chronic failures of ventilation fans on commercial aircraft, to monitor safety critical drivetrain components on helicopters or to create a fully integrated health monitoring solution for the entire aircraft, these systems will reduce unplanned maintenance, reduce operating costs and increase aircraft availability. In every case, vehicle health solutions need to be cost-effective, flexible systems that can grow with the operator’s needs. To be successful, the system must integrate with key user interfaces to provide logical presentation of health data and enable fleet management and logistics programs. With health management solutions by UTC Aerospace Systems, you can be confident in early warnings and accurate prognostics to maximize the value of your aircraft.

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Contact UTC Aerospace Systems Sensors & Integrated Systems Kevin R .Hawko Vehicle Health – Business Development Manager 100 Panton Road Vergennes, VT 05491 USA Email: Kevin.Hawko@utas.utc.com Phone: +1 802 877 4243


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Defense Cuts and a New Age of Aircraft Health Monitoring Tom Cropper, Editor

Western militaries are reigning in their spending in an attempt to control costs and manage resources. Health monitoring systems could help them manage costs while improving capacity.

I

T WAS his first visit to Europe after becoming Vice President – uncertainty reigned about the new administration’s foreign policies especially its commitment to NATO. However, Mike Pence had words of reassurance. The US, he said, remained ‘fully committed’ to NATO. Even so, he had some conditions – certain NATO members had to start pulling their weight and spend a little more.

Tight Purse Strings Pence was referring to an era of austerity which had seen the majority of NATO members fall below their commitments to spend 2% of GDP on the military. In an environment in which money is tight, modern military operations must find savings where they can. Spending on new systems comes under scrutiny and those technologies which can reduce operational expenditure begin to look much more attractive. The US has been concerned about military spending in Europe for some time. In 2015 a top army general openly questioned the UK’s recent spending cuts and whether British units would be able to function independently in the future. At the time, the UK was on target to fall below NATOs 2% mark. That didn’t happen. In the following budget, George Osbourne announced a fresh commitment to maintain defense spending at 0.5% above inflation2.

A New Strategy Even so, this was the first increase in the defense budget in six years. Overall, most western armies had become accustomed to austere living. Even in the US – the world’s biggest spender on the military by some margin – spending has been coming down. Cuts stem partly from a desire to wind down after a prolonged period of continuous action

in Afghanistan and Iraq, and partly financial necessity. The global economy remains volatile. Recovery post-2008 has been sluggish and, in such a climate of austerity, the fat budgets of the military look ripe for cutting. However, geopolitical developments mean the demands being placed on armed forces are increasing. The world must contend with a more aggressive Russia and a resurgent China, both of whom have been increasing military expenditure over the past few years. The terrorist threat of Al Qaeda has been replaced with a far greater threat in the shape of ISIS. Major European powers have been deploying troops and infrastructure to bolster Ukraine, while they must also contend with the threat of piracy off the coast of Africa. Threats are becoming more numerous and more diverse. Such demands are likely to see a reversal of the downward spend in the future. Germany plans to boost troop numbers by 200,0003. Donald Trump has pledged an ‘historic boost’ in military spending4. Theresa May has also urged NATO allies to lift military spending5.

Smart Money Even so, new funds are limited and Western militaries will have to get used to living within their means. It’s a new fiscal reality which will impact on procurement policies. In the past, the military has been criticized for wasting money on expensive big ticket items – not all of which function as well as they should. The US Air Force’s brand new $1.5 trillion F-35 has been beset by problems since its launch. These include an ejection seat which can prove fatal to pilots, radar problems and super computers riddled with bugs6. Suppliers delivering next generation equipment to the military are now taking a different strategy – one which promotes their ability to conserve resources and save money. In an atmosphere WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

The cost of unscheduled maintenance and inspection is one of the largest expenses for the air force – especially with an aging fleet

of budgetary constraint, organizations must be innovative and find efficiency gains to optimize expenditure. It’s an environment which increases the appeal of a new generation of aircraft health monitoring systems.

Health Check Monitoring the health of aircraft systems is typically difficult. They are hard to access and monitor – as such there is a limited amount of health analytics available. This is changing. Aircraft produce a huge amount of data about their performance, wear and tear. Simultaneously, sensor technology is evolving rapidly to a point where operators will be able to collect and analyze a variety of parameters such as corrosion, engine health, equipment damage and much more. They can pin-point the location of a potential problem before it fails. Not only is it safer for pilots and crew – with a reduced risk of sudden failure in operation – but it can also achieve huge savings. The result is a market which has considerable potential for growth. A study from Markets and

Markets places the size of the Aircraft Health Monitoring market – including civil and military – at $3.43bn as of the end of 2016. The report predicts this to grow to $4.71bn by 2021 at a CAGR of 6.53%7. Much of this technology is in development, but leading providers are already extending this to provide a comprehensive aircraft health diagnostics solution. The impact could be profound. The cost of unscheduled maintenance and inspection is one of the largest expenses for the air force – especially with an aging fleet. It also consumes time and resources; ground crew are constantly trouble shooting, locating problems, and assessing issues. Health monitoring solutions save them time and streamline the entire process. They may not be the kind of new military technology that gets pulses racing. Nevertheless, they could play a crucial part in reducing operation costs and enabling the military to meet its demanding obligations over the coming years. In a world of constrained resources, it’s the small details which can make the biggest impact.

The US has been concerned about military spending in Europe for some time. In 2015 a top army general openly questioned the UK’s recent spending cuts and whether British units would be able to function independently in the future

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Why Health Monitoring is Crucial to the Future Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Why military aircraft need a sophisticated network of health monitoring technologies.

W

E WORRY about many things in this day and age. However, more often than not, it’s the problems we don’t predict which cause the most damage. Such is the case for air forces around the world. Unexpected failure is a major problem – both in terms of safety, and the cost of maintenance.

The Cost of Failure The costs come in additional maintenance and excessive downtime – and the inevitable danger to life and limb. As aircraft age, the risk of unexpected failure increases and so too does the cost of repairs and maintenance. Equally, the introduction of new, more sophisticated aircraft create additional challenges – in particular the need to update quality control measures. It is the most advanced aircraft containing some of the most cutting edge, state of the art equipment, which often finds itself the most at risk. They are the ones pushing the envelope, stretching the outer edge of what’s possible. Although equipment might be constructed to withstand a certain degree of stress, real life can throw up all sorts of challenging situations. The F-22, when it was released, ran into trouble. Reports in 2009 suggested it required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the air, bringing its hourly flight cost to $44,000 – far higher than the aircraft it replaced. The problem stemmed from its radar absorbing metallic skin which threw up a number of unforeseen problems such as vulnerability to rain and other shortcomings. Between May and October 2008, only 55% of the entire fleet was available for operation8. In other words, just because a product is designed to have long life and be hard-wearing, there’s no guarantee it will be. Unseen problems can occur which lead to enormous costs of unscheduled maintenance and downtime – as well as reducing pilot safety.

Extending Existing Systems The ability to monitor the condition of aircraft is not just important for the latest models. With military budgets coming under pressure, the cost of an entirely new aircraft can seem prohibitive, especially since tests show that many older models can continue to perform well. For example, when the US military’s new stateof-the-art F-35 stealth jet - the most expensive ever made – went toe to toe with an F16 designed in the 70s in a dogfight, it lost! The pilot said it was too cumbersome to cope with its more agile opponent. For all the money lavished on this aircraft, they were unable to foresee the problems of live action9. The obvious barrier to extending the use of older aircraft is wear and tear. However, installing a suite of health monitoring systems can detect issues before they arise, reducing maintenance requirements and maximizing the investment in aircraft, by significantly expanding its operational life. Sensors placed on components can perform automated inspections and produce automatic alerts when things go wrong. The benefit of health monitoring comes in more than just maintenance reduction. These sensors harvest a huge amount of data about the current condition and performance of aircraft. This can all be brought together into a central processing unit and used for extensive fleet analytics. Reports can be produced on the current condition of aircraft and how they are performing. Operators can see if a certain component is deteriorating faster than its specified design, if fuel consumption is higher than expected and much more. As well as organizing maintenance schedules, it’s a great way to enhance fleet management and produce more accurate forecasts for useful operational life span.

Delivering the Right System Aircraft health monitoring, therefore, will become a key component in both commercial and WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 9


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Installing a suite of health monitoring systems can detect issues before they arise, reducing maintenance requirements and maximizing the investment in aircraft

military aviation. However, to get maximum value, operators will need to use the technology in the right way. First, they need a system which works. While collecting and understanding such data is one challenge, another comes in delivering a system which works for the end-consumer. The ideal future system will be open and accessible – something which can be used by both original equipment manufacturers and in the aftermarket. Systems must be designed with a long lifeexpectancy, which means easy and seamless integration of any new updates. Sensor technology is in the relatively early stages of development, which means the next few years will see technology evolve significantly. To remain where it needs to be – at the cutting edge of technology – a new suite of sensor technology will have to have the ability to move with the times. It will also need to integrate with what’s already there.

Assessing Performance Metrics and analytics will be key. Installing a new system does not come without its downsides. There’s the upfront cost as well as additional weight and complexity. Buyers will

want to know that their investment is paying off. To do that they will need to establish effective metrics on which to judge the effectiveness of a system. Some parameters will be relatively straightforward, such as a reduction in maintenance time and costs, but more efficient diagnostics can have knock-on effects across aircraft operations. There will be intangible gains which should be measured and assessed – such as reduced fuel consumption through higher performance, improved safety, infrastructure improvements and a reduction in downtime, among others. Gathering this information will help decide whether health monitoring systems are truly delivering real and quantifiable benefits. The recent history of air force innovation is full of new technology which failed to deliver the results intended. Real life situations can raise unforeseen challenges. Hoped-for benefits may not translate into the real world and, even if a system functions as desired, it may have knock-on effects to others aspect of an aircraft’s design. To get the most out of innovative technology, air forces need to apply as much thought to implementation as to what the technology can do.

Just because a product is designed to have long life and be hard-wearing, there’s no guarantee it will be. Unseen problems can occur which lead to enormous costs of unscheduled maintenance and downtime – as well as reducing pilot safety

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

The Evolution of Aircraft Health Monitoring James Butler, Correspondent

Integrated health monitoring systems make it easier for operators to view the current condition of an aircraft fleet.

A

S YOUR doctor will tell you, it’s better to have a regular health check to ensure you catch any problems before they become serious. Aircraft maintenance crews do the same thing. They schedule regular checks of each aircraft to catch problems before they become critical. This is vital, but takes time and effort, and it’s still possible for components to fail unexpectedly. How wonderful it would be if a computer could just monitor the condition of components and report back on any issues it found.

Preventative Measures This is the basis behind the latest generation of health monitoring systems. Rather than relying on manual checks, they can report on the condition of an aircraft, allowing operators to streamline maintenance procedures and gather a huge amount of information about performance. The systems have much in common with advanced telematics seen in sports such as Formula 1. Pit crews use sensors to constantly monitor the condition of the car. If there’s a small problem anywhere it will translate into their data allowing them to take preventative measures. It keeps the machine running, reduces the likelihood of an accident and optimizes performance. Health monitoring is already key to MRO in the commercial aviation sector. Many airlines use Wi-Fi installed at the gate to upload information about the condition of the aircraft. It enables them to draw up comprehensive data on the current condition of their fleet, and optimize maintenance schedules. Swiss International Airlines10, for example, use an advanced health monitoring system to monitor the condition of aircraft in the air and on the ground. It can communicate a problem to ground crew while in-flight, enabling them to monitor it and have the correct tool ready and

waiting at the gate. It’s a great way to reduce their turn-around time and get the aircraft back in the air with as little downtime as possible. Such technologies represent an enormous step forward, both in the amount of information being gathered and the way it is being analyzed. Sensors constantly monitor the health of an aircraft in-flight and report its position to operators on the ground. They can then see how it is performing and schedule maintenance and health checks accordingly. It’s a move away from time-based checking towards a more accurate and efficient condition-based system where maintenance can be carried out based on the actual condition of equipment.

Condition-Based Checking In the military sphere, Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) have been used to detect and analyze problems on helicopters. They can provide insights into small issues which occur during each flight – this is then downloaded after flight and any problems quickly addressed. During flight, it constantly monitors every aspect of the aircraft operation to provide a quick and simple go/no-go message on the display. For ground-stations it can deliver more detailed data. The example of HUMS has illustrated just how important in-flight diagnostics can be and, with the introduction of more sophisticated software, completely integrated health management systems are providing an enormous step forward in diagnostics and maintenance. One of the latest systems is the PulseTM HMS, which uses a remote sensor interface, diagnostic and prognostic analytics software models and wireless data capture to collect information about the overall health of an aircraft. All this can be processed on board or transferred to another location to be stored or for further analysis. It connects with existing ground-stations and can be uploaded WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

By processing data wirelessly through the PulseTM HMS, customers should be able to tailor the system to work with their specific aircraft

onto laptops to provide enormous flexibility and mobility for operators and maintenance teams. The system has been trialed by the US Airforce with their C5 Galaxy Aircraft. The trials are being used to monitor the air-worthiness of the sensing system aboard the aircraft. The Galaxy represents an excellent testing ground. It is one of the largest military aircrafts currently in service, with a cargo capacity of 270,000 lb – greater than any other cargo lifter. “This is like monitoring systems found in modern automobiles that evaluate tire pressure, fuel consumption, oil condition, drivetrain performance or other aspects,” said David Larsen, Prognostics and Health Management Systems Program Chief Engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems, “and they provide the driver or mechanic with the necessary information to assist in keeping the vehicle well maintained.” By processing data wirelessly through the PulseTM HMS, customers should be able to tailor the system to work with their specific aircraft. They can choose what data they view and how it is displayed to create a system which fits in with their specific requirements.

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The Pulse™ Health Monitoring System “Our Pulse™ Health Monitoring System can be scaled up or down through the placement of modules on aircraft to accommodate a customer’s needs for different sensors within mission systems and avionics,” said Kevin Hawko, manager of Sensors & Integrated Systems, Aircraft Health Business Development at UTC Aerospace Systems. “We are proud to work with Metis Design and to offer flexible and affordable technologies like these which take the industry to higher levels of performance and safety.” There is more to come from this technology. Sensors can become smaller and more integrated into the fabric of an aircraft. They will analyze and process more data more quickly, enabling further increases in analytics and reporting. While many of these systems are still in the testing phase, the next decade is likely to see rapid and accelerating development. This, in itself, presents a challenge as developers will move to ensure any updates can be swiftly incorporated into the design. Western militaries constantly talk about the need to be at the cutting edge of development. Here they have a golden opportunity to do just that. The ability to capture and analyze vast quantities of performance data will be increasingly important to how air forces deal with the challenges of modern warfare. They are one of those few innovations which can both save money and improve performance.


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Future Developments for Aircraft Health Monitoring Tom Cropper, Editor

Connected, integrated and instant – how aircraft health monitoring systems are taking center stage in the military market.

I

T’S 2002 and the British army embarks on a major military exercise in Oman. However, they’re in for a rude shock. Much of their equipment – including their aircraft and helicopters, is rated unsuitable for desert warfare. That’s a big problem. They’re just under a year down the line from 9/11; the world is gearing up for war in Afghanistan with further conflict in Iraq highly likely. Desert warfare is not going out of fashion any time soon. Their problem was one faced by countless commanders down the ages. Military development is often reactive – struggling to cope with the changing nature of warfare. When operating in new environments, even the best equipment can fail unexpectedly. Innovators must partly play the role of soothsayers. Because of the time-lag between a technology being developed and making it to the front line, they are not designing weapons for today – they are designing them for tomorrow. When planning and implementing new technologies, developers must cast an eye down the road to see what challenges tomorrow’s military commanders might face.

An Uncertain Future The future can be hard to predict. Funding levels are uncertain. The past few years may have seen cuts to financing, but as mentioned earlier in this report, the USA, Germany, the UK and other major powers have recently announced fresh investment. Even so, technology of the future will need to pay its way – to help military operations become as cost-effective as possible. In the air force the future will be a mixture of the old and new. The price of next generation fighters is growing faster than inflation, prompting air forces to keep hold of older models for longer. The average age of the US Airforce’s fleet is currently 26 years – the oldest it’s been in history11. Manufacturers such as Boeing are

delivering updates to existing aircraft aimed at making them compatible for modern warfare. Equally, technologies which can extend the useful service life of aircraft – such as health monitoring systems – will increasingly be in demand. That said, newer aircraft are on their way; they will be built around digital technology and will be far more conducive to the introduction of sensors and monitoring technologies. They push performance parameters into unknown territories which not only increases performance, but also heightens risk. Health monitoring systems will perform several important functions. They will monitor equipment and infrastructure for unexpected failure, help commanders evaluate the performance of new aircraft, collect metrics and help deliver improvements. Some of the most advanced proposed aircraft of the future use HMS as the basis of their design, such as the US Airforce’s next generation of aircraft. When Barack Obama submitted his budget request for the Pentagon in 2015, it included $5million set aside for an item called the Next Generation Fighter12. The new sixth generation fighter, also known as the X-Plane, represents an ambitious vision of the Airforce’s future. It comes packed with futuristic weapons systems and features, including an autonomous sensor system which includes something termed ‘smart skin’. Developed by Boeing, the idea came to senior research scientist Lydia Hyde13 when she was watching her tumble dryer. This uses a heat sensor to detect and prevent overheating, and it occurred that there was no reason an aircraft’s skin shouldn’t be able to do something similar. Her vision replaces large and expensive sensors with thousands of micro-sensors which can measure every aspect of an aircraft’s skin condition. They could be as small as dust particles and may even be applied in the same way as spray paint. It is hoped this new sensitive smart skin will be able to feel the environment around it in WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Operators expect a great deal from technology. They hope it will reduce maintenance, improve performance and reduce fuel consumption

much the same way that ours does. It would sense damage, heat and stress, and feed that information back into a central processing system. That data can be communicated wirelessly and displayed to a pilot on a head-up display. It would alert pilots and ground-crew to any potentially serious problems before they present a significant threat to the aircraft.

Tomorrow’s Technology A smart skin which can ‘feel’ injuries in the same way humans sounds highly advanced and it is. Designers often like to peer down the road and think about what could be possible one day, rather than what is possible today. However, improving the ability to monitor infrastructure damage is one of the big goals in HMS. Doing so is quite a challenge. With current technology, it would be impossible to cover the entire surface with sensors. One option is to assess where a likely or critical location for damage would be. Distributed optical sensing could offer a solution. Fibre-optic sensing techniques do not need individual sensing elements. They could extend coverage without impacting heavily on weight. Moving into the future, developers will also look to refine the technology to provide a more comprehensive diagnosis. The aim will be to go from the ability to locate the problem to characterize the nature of the damage. Today’s systems can tell you that a problem is there – tomorrow’s may be able to tell you what the issue is, and suggest remedies.

Quality Control Operators expect a great deal from technology. They hope it will reduce maintenance, improve performance and reduce fuel consumption. We

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are entering an era in which advanced avionics will become increasingly critical to aircraft operations. A report into the future of the avionics market expects CAGR of 3% up to 202114. However, the rise of in-plane technology produces a host of quality control issues. The more aircraft rely on technology, the greater the probability of a fault occurring. Equally, operators want to know they are getting a return on investment. Continuous monitoring of the health of each system will be crucial in scheduling maintenance but also providing constant feedback about how well their investment is doing. The rise of such health monitoring systems, will accelerate the use of big data in aircraft maintenance. The example of commercial airlines shows just how much information can be delivered. Pratt & Witney’s Geared TurboFan engine, which can be found on The Bombardier C Series, carries 5,000 sensors and can produce up to 10 GB of data per second15. It’s the most data-rich industry in the world and one in which that data is also incredibly valuable. It’s a world in which ‘internet of things’ technology takes center stage. Every part of an aircraft is connected, reporting back vast quantities of data every single second. It’s a data-driven future which will be revolutionizing the MRO industry. Harvesting that data and presenting it in an accessible and actionable way will be one of the major challenges. Software solutions will need to offer operators a way to personalize data collection to their own specific requirements. They will need to be intuitive, flexible and mobile, giving engineers the ability to access information as and when they need it.


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

References: http://www.wsj.com/video/how-much-does-it-cost-to-cancel-a-flight/C1A7A873-ED2F-49F1-8CF4-69A90F80831D.html

1

Defence Budget Increases for the First Time in Six Years: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-budget-increases-for-the-first-time-in-six-years

2

3

Germany to Increase Troops: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/22/germany-boost-army-200000-troops-amid-growing-concern-donald/

4

Donald Trump is Set to Boost Military Spending: https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-is-set-to-boost-military-spending-1488241689

Theresa May Will Urge European Countries to Boost Defence Spending: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nato-defence-spending-donald-trump-theresa-may-gdp-target-a7550381.html

5

6

America’s Most Expensive Fighter Jet is Also its Worst: http://www.maxim.com/news/f35-pentagon-worst-plane-2016-2

7

Aircraft Health Monitoring Market: http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/aircraft-health-monitoring-systems.asp

8

High Price F22 Has Major Problems: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/09/AR2009070903020.html

9

Airforce’s Most Sophisticated Plane Beaten in Dogfight: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3144873/U-S-air-force-s-sophisticated-stealth-jet-beaten-dogfight-plane-1970s-despite-expensive-weapon-history.html

Effects of Next Generation Aircraft on MRO: http://www.mro-network.com/maintenance-repair-overhaul/effects-next-generation-aircraft-mro-prospects 10

Aging Array of American Aircraft Attracting Attention: http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/aging-array-of-american-aircraft-attracting-attention-0901/ 11

12

Here’s What You’ll Find on a Fighter Jet in 2030: http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/02/heres-what-youll-find-fighter-jet-2030/104736/

13

BAE Uses Smart Skin: https://www.theengineer.co.uk/issues/august-2014-online/bae-uses-miniature-sensors-to-give-aircraft-smart-skin/

14

Avionics Market: https://www.marketresearchfuture.com/reports/military-aircraft-avionics-market

15

Big Data in Engines: https://vrworld.com/2015/05/08/big-data-in-planes-new-pw-gtf-engine-telemetry-to-generate-10gbs/

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN AIRCRAFT HEALTH MONITORING TECHNOLOGY

Notes:

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MISSIONS CAN’T WAIT FOR MAINTENANCE The most comprehensive vehicle health solution helps ensure the safety of your crews and the readiness of your fleet. Vehicle Health Management (VHM) systems by UTC Aerospace Systems are the eyes and ears of your aircraft from nose to tail. VHM diagnoses the health of your choice of aircraft systems, components and structures, providing actionable data with high fidelity, all while minimizing maintenance impacts to your operations. Be confident in early warnings and accurate prognostics — equip your aircraft with UTC Aerospace Systems VHM. Learn more at utcaerospacesystems.com.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson/Released


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Defence Industry Report – Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology  

Defence Industry Reports – 132 – Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology – UTC Aerospace Systems

Defence Industry Report – Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology  

Defence Industry Reports – 132 – Advances in Aircraft Health Monitoring Technology – UTC Aerospace Systems