Two new developments from BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre promise to markedly enhance performance of aircraft through the innovative use of new-age sensor technologies.
A new system called the engine health diagnostics using radar (EHDUR) can determine the overall state and performance characteristics of any jet engine–as well as detect foreign objects entering an engine–by using low power spread spectrum radar technology. This system constantly monitors air intake and compressor stages and effectively “listens” for changes in the engine blade vibrations. This provides early warning of any fatigue or other faults and reduces the risk of blade failure.
EHDUR technology can be applied to any engine type–allowing a standardized set of equipment–and it can be applied to power turbines, industrial engines and other turbine engine derivatives.
Another innovation is the development of a new microstructured fiber technology that can be used to power laser-based sensor systems. These “holey fibers” can carry up to 10 times the power that a normal fiber line would carry and reduce the time required to power up these laser-based systems.
This technology was originally developed at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, and the key to their enhanced capability are large numbers of tiny holes that are smaller in diameter than a human hair and are arranged in striking patterns around a central core of solid glass. They multiply the carrying capacity of the core and allow the passage of laser light with much higher power and wavelength content.
With this system, avionics engineers can construct a central “pipe” of light power that can then be tapped into by each system as required instead of needing a number of separate lasers. This greatly reduces the weight, size and cost of putting laser-powered sensors on any platform.