Sikorsky’s new S-76D is the latest application for the Vigor health usage and management system (HUMS) developed by Goodrich’s Sensors and Integrated Systems division. Having been conceived in the 1990s as a safety tool, HUMS technology is now as much about helping operators to fly efficiently and is set to play its part in new-generation navigation systems such as ADS-B out capability, which will be mandatory as part of FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system from 2020.HUMS is mandatory for operators serving the offshore energy industries and across the board by Canadian authorities. While Goodrich does not favor extending the requirement onshore, the company feels the case for voluntary adoption of HUMS is proving increasingly compelling for functions such as maintenance and training.
“What is starting to drive the market in the commercial world are the benefits that the U.S military is getting,” said Marc Brodeur, director of business development. “They are finding that [using HUMS to monitor the actual condition of aircraft] they don’t have to have standby back up aircraft to make flights.”
Goodrich is working on a HUMS demonstrator to install on the U.S. Army’s LUH-72 Lakota helicopters and this is due to be ready during the second half of next year. The system’s use on a military version of the Eurocopter EC145 could pave the way for further civil applications of Vigor.
Vigor equipment is already in service on Sikorsky’s larger S-92, which marked the first time HUMS was provided as standard equipment on a commercially operated helicopter. Goodrich’s goal is to make it viable for midsize models such as the S-76D, which is due to complete certification by the end of this year.
“The Army is seeing significant reductions in flight-hour costs [on aircraft including Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk],” Brodeur told AIN. “The OEMs are seeing benefits for their power-by-the-hour programs and the operators are becoming better fleet managers with HUMS.”
According to Goodrich (Booth No. 2142), Vigor is delivering the credible, usable data that could give OEMs the confidence to improve key procedures such as rotor track and balance. “The system give them the hard data to back up these decisions and means that parts don’t have to be replaced needlessly,” explained Brodeur. “The [helicopter] industry is getting closer to on-condition maintenance and this provides the [aircraft performance] prognostics to support this.”
Now, Goodrich is working to integrate the HUMS ground stations with the company’s electronic flight bag product in a move that will support ADS-B out capability (automatic dependent surveillance--broadcast, transmission from aircraft to ground stations), without the need to install additional equipment. The same approach could be taken by integrating HUMS with the TERPROM terrain avoidance system developed by Goodrich’s new Atlantic Inertial Systems subsidiary.
The technology also has the potential to serve as the flight data acquisition unit for cockpit voice and data monitors, through integration with the mission data recorders from another Goodrich subsidiary, TEAC Aerospace Technologies. According to Goodrich, Vigor is the only HUMS that uses software qualified to the DO178 standards that are required for more advanced applications like this.
Vigor monitors the entire helicopter mechanical drive train from the engines to the rotor system, flight manual exceedances and hundreds of aircraft system signals. “Goodrich’s HUMS uses more sensors and collects more data than competing systems,” claimed Brodeur. “And while this is great, it’s not about the data; it’s about how our algorithms digest and use the data. The two combined enable us to truly understand the state of the helicopter. We now have better mechanical diagnostics, so we can predict further out with fewer false alarms. We want to give an operator a hundred hours of advance notice on a pending failure, not five hours,” he said.