Modern vehicle platforms often contain multiple health managements systems, each providing a separate prognostic or diagnostic assessments for different aircraft subsystems. Aircraft integrators are increasingly seeking ways of integrating multiple health management systems in an automated way, these Integrated Vehicle Health Management (iVHM) systems remove the capacity for human error and delays, with all assessments feeding directly into Maintenance scheduling systems.
What is iVHM?
iVHM is a modern concept that seeks to automate and integrate hardware and software components of one or more vehicle health management systems, to provide maintenance and logistical systems with a global picture of the vehicle health and give direction on how the vehicle and fleet should be managed for optimum health.
An iVHM system will typically manage several health and prognostic assessment system such as OLM (operational loads monitoring), SHM (structural Health Monitoring), EM (Engine Monitoring), integrating the outputs automatically and creating a global advisory.
All the stages of an iVHM system are automated, there should be minimal human interaction required to facilitate data and information transfer. Human operators should only need to interact with the external systems (stage 7), e.g. cockpit warning lights or maintenance ERP system.
Challenges and Solutions?
iVHM solutions require the successful integration and automation of multiple health management systems across heterogeneous fleets. Curtiss-Wright has partnered with Critical Materials to offer iVHM solutions with Acra KAM-500 instrumentation units and the Proddia iVHM software framework.
Curtiss-Wright offer the Acra KAM-500, a flight qualified hardware solution that can be easily configured for any data acquisition requirement (stage 1), the KAD/MAT/101 embedded processor module also allows for data manipulation (stage 2) and state detection (stage 3) within the electronics unit.
Critical Materials offer Proddia, an iVHM software framework allowing for health management across fleets. Proddia is a modular software framework which allows for variety of analysis modules to be incorporated, depending on the iVHM implementation these could be OLM (operational loads monitoring), SHM (structural health monitoring), Engine Monitoring (EM).
The Proddia iVHM platform allows for many possible iVHM implementations available some example include:
- A base-line initial iVHM system could just look at structural loads monitoring, with the KAM-500 performing data acquisition from load cells, strain gauges etc. Proddia would host an OLM (operational loads monitoring) module, calculating load cycles and fatigue life consumption.
- Using the same KAM-500 hardware as the base-line system, an upgraded iVHM system could look at real-time structural damage detection resulting from impacts and other events. Proddia would host a SHM (structural health monitoring) module, allowing for interrogation of structural elements (e.g. Lamb waves) and detection of damage within a defined probability of detection.
- A further iVHM upgrade could look at monitoring non-structural systems, performing real-time component damage detection on specific aircraft parts, e.g. monitoring of the turbofan engine. Proddia would host a HUMS (health & usage monitoring system) or EM (engine monitoring) module for this purpose, allowing for real-time detection of critical component failures.
- An eventual iVHM system may include a mixture of the above and probably others not considered here. The Proddia framework also allows end-users to include their own specific analysis packages.