Turbomeca Mulls 24/7 Helo Engine Connection
French helicopter turboshaft manufacturer Turbomeca has completed a $33 million research program that opens the door to a massive collection of usage and maintenance data on helicopter engines. The idea is to have engines sending an exhaustive set of data, after each flight, to a centralized server. During a four-month trial, every time an engine was shut down a small transmitter sent data such as engine configuration (with part numbers), flight hours, number of flight cycles, temperatures and incident reports that include background information. Most communications were done via the standard GSM network. The data may be used for a variety of purposes–trend monitoring, maintenance planning, fault diagnosis and so on. The three-year program, dubbed System for Mobile Maintenance Accessible in Real Time (SMMART), was led by Turbomeca but involved another 23 companies and universities in Europe. The system is expected to be operational in 2011. Challenges include convincing all customers to enroll and funding the fleetwide system at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.