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Helitech 2018: Helitune’s healthy remedy for helicopters

9th October 2018 - 11:00 GMT | by Helen Haxell in London

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Flight trials and demonstrations are well underway with Helitune’s latest health monitoring solution, IVHM-Evolve, Shephard has learnt.

The IVHM-Evolve project is a collaborative effort with Bristol University, Queen Mary University and a company called XMOS – which provide microcontrollers and audio processors.

The technology will be on display at Helitech International 2018 and is closely based around the RotorTuner 6 (RT-6) portfolio.

Helitune’s RT-6 is a system built for rotor track and balance - it measures the vibration and the rotor blade track split.

Peter Morrish, technology manager at Helitune, explained further how the RT-6 and Evolve are related: ‘The RT-6 is a carry-on piece of equipment. With the Evolve technology we have taken the RT-6 product on to the next level to an onboard solution where we can monitor the rotor track and balance state, as well as the vibration state and monitoring the health of the helicopter. The IVHM- Evolve technologies enables Helitune to advance its RotorTuner 6 product.’

Morrish said how this year has seen the completion of a number of flight trials and demonstrations of the IVHM-Evolve project which have taken place for some key customers.

This agnostic and bespoke solution can be tailored to end users’ needs and meet the demands of operators of medium-size, twin-engine enabling them to monitor the parts of the helicopter they want.

‘The system can start off with a relatively simple solution – just monitor the main rotor and the engines, the approach we’ve taken is you can add additional modules and build up the system as you have new requirements. It’s built for harsh environments,’ he said.

The system can be used in conjunction with incumbent and pre-existing HUMs solutions on helicopters.

Paul Hawksworth, sales manager at Helitune, added: ‘The advantage is it could also be used against a current HUMs system – [when you consider a] larger helicopter which probably has a legacy system installed – the cost of expanding those older systems could be quite cost prohibitive. So, you could actually run this system in tandem with. It’s a lot cheaper to do it that way than to expand the current legacy systems.’

According to a company statement the sensor nodes are connected in series which keeps the amount of wiring down and therefore, the weight making it easier to scale and/or expand the system. 

The sensors are plug and play and can be swapped for any other type of sensor such as vibration, temperature, pressure, wireless receiver, video, audio all feeding back to the RT-6 VMU/VHM data collection/storage device along with any flight computer data.

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