Why Rotorcraft HUMS?
Helicopter Fleet Managers use Health & Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) to monitor critical rotational components within transmissions and drive-trains. The condition of each component is monitored in near real-time and fault indications are fed into a Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) system, an effective CBM system ensures that damaged components are replaced in the short window between detection and failure. The likelihood of a critical component failure during flight is reduced by 10-fold when a helicopter has a HUMS system on-board.
What is Rotorcraft HUMS?
Health & Usage Monitoring systems were first developed in the aftermath of several Northsea helicopter crashes in the 1980s and a US presidential Blackhawk crash in 1991. In the aerospace industry HUMS almost always refers to a helicopter transmission/gearbox/rotor monitoring system. The association is so strong that the “H” could almost stand for Helicopter. HUMS has had a profound effect on rotorcraft safety with technical accidents decreasing 10 fold upon their introduction (D. A. Howson, “Offshore Helicopter Safety”, Civil Aviation Authority, Reported May 2013).
One critical part of a HUMS system are the set of algorithms that analyse the vibrational/tacho condition indicators and access the health of the rotational unit being monitored. Another critical part of a HUMS system are the set of procedures that ensure that health assessments are translated into maintenance actions.
Challenges and Solutions?
Rotorcraft HUMS systems have been widely adopted over the past 20+ years, and their value is without dispute. One of the principle difficulties for helicopter operators is the weight and footprint taken-up by additional HUMS hardware.
Curtiss-Wright provide an integrated HUMS solution that is hosted within our next-generation Fortress flight recorder. Our solution allows for reduction in the number of LRUs, reduction in wiring and an overall reduction in weight on the order of 10 kg - 20 kg.