Airbus Helicopters to certify HUMs on lights, mediums
March 10, 2016 By Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters Inc. plans to seek Federal Aviation Administration certification in 2016 of the first comprehensive and integrated Health Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) and Flight Data Monitoring (HFDM) system for light helicopters.
The system, developed in collaboration with Ultra Electronics-Flightline Systems, of Victor, N.Y., was tested at Airbus Helicopters Inc. over a period of several months during 2015 on an EC145 main gearbox. Data gathered during that time showed the system, which weighs just seven pounds, collected highly accurate data. The system demonstrated the capability of detecting even very small faults amidst the noise and vibrations of standard helicopter operations.
In production, data gathered by the HUMS system will be used to improve maintenance practices, and streamline customer operations, reducing the costs of helicopter operations. It will also enhance safety by detecting abnormalities. Ultimately, Airbus Helicopters will be able to use data gathered by HUMS systems to develop improved helicopter technology and critical components.
Certification will initially be sought to install HUMS on the EC145 (BK117 C2) family of helicopters. There is a large fleet of that model aircraft in operation in the U.S. market, particularly with air medical service operators and the UH-72A Lakota variant operated by the U.S. Army. Certification of HUMS for other Airbus Helicopters models will follow, with the H125/AS350 AStar series slated to be next in line. Once certified for each helicopter model the system will be available for retrofits.
“This is an exciting development for Airbus Helicopters and the rotorcraft industry,” said Chris Emerson, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and head of Airbus Helicopters North America region. “Development of HUMS for light helicopters will allow the industry to move to condition-based maintenance, maximizing aircraft availability and reducing costs due to unexpected downtime and better spares usage. It will also be a factor in improving safety.”
Airbus Helicopters Inc. will tailor its customer support and service offerings to reflect the data it receives from helicopter operations, including Component Support and MRO program, and to provide operators with proactive and predictive support. The data will also allow Airbus Helicopters to improve spares support by predicting usage.
Certification of HUMS requires no FAA rules changes. The regulatory agency needs only to certify that the installation itself does not affect the safe operation of the aircraft. Implementation of the HUMS and Flight Data Monitoring systems will allow air medical service operators to become compliant with the FAA’s EMS Flight Data Monitoring requirements.