Embry-Riddle Conducts FAA Helicopter Research Flights

Funded with a grant of $620,000 from the FAA, the project is evaluating Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) equipment that uses onboard sensors to monitor flight conditions and the health of helicopter components.


Daytona Beach, Fla., March 17, 2008 -- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in conjunction with Tomlinson Aviation Inc. of Ormond Beach, Fla., and Systems & Electronics of Chicago, has completed the first of a series of FAA- sponsored helicopter research flights demonstrating technology intended to enhance the safety and commercial viability of helicopters in the United States.

Funded with a grant of $620,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration, the project is evaluating Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) equipment that uses onboard sensors to monitor flight conditions and the health of helicopter components. The prototype HUMS hardware was developed by Systems & Electronics.

"Thanks to this technology, helicopter components in poor health can be retired early, and healthy components can receive a life-limit extension," said Dr. Pat Anderson, the Embry-Riddle Aerospace Engineering professor who is directing the HUMS project. "Thus, HUMS will help helicopter operators increase safety while at the same time lowering operating expenses."

The research flights were successfully completed on Feb. 16, 2008, in a Bell 206 Jet Ranger provided by Tomlinson Aviation. The team from Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus, composed of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students from both the College of Engineering and the College of Aviation, equipped the jet-powered helicopter with a prototype HUMS for monitoring a suite of sensors collecting aircraft-state data in real-time. Initial data reductions indicate that the tests successfully determined the health of the helicopter's tail rotor in flight.

The team now moves on to demonstrate the same technology enhancements in a smaller reciprocating helicopter similar to those used in pilot training.

HUMS team members from Embry-Riddle are Dr. Dan Macchiarella, Aeronautical Science professor, as a pilot; Rachel Rajnicek, Aerospace Engineering graduate research assistant, as the flight test engineer; Dr. Andrew Kornecki, Computer Engineering professor, as the advisor on the computer interface with the sensors; and students Chris Brown, Tom Haritos, Monica Londono, and Borja Martos as assistants. Neal Tomlinson, owner of Tomlinson Aviation, serves as a HUMS pilot, with the maintenance technicians at his company assisting the Embry-Riddle engineers.

For more information, contact Dr. Pat Anderson at Embry-Riddle at (386) 226- 6917 or richard.anderson@erau.edu.

Tomlinson Aviation Inc., located at Ormond Beach Municipal Airport in Ormond Beach, Fla., provides helicopter sales, service, and parts. The facility is an FAA-approved Parts 133, 135, 137, and 145 repair station and parts distributor for Bell, Enstrom, MD, Robinson, and Schweizer helicopters for the Southeast Region of the United States. The company offers product support and overnight parts shipments. FAA-approved flight instruction is available for Parts 133, 135, 137, and 141 as well as visa sponsorship, with financial aid through AOPA and SLM Financial. The company offers charter, air taxi, and photography flights.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, offers more than 30 degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering. The university educates more than 34,000 students annually in undergraduate and graduate programs at residential campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla., through the Worldwide Campus at more than 130 centers in the United States, Europe, Canada, and the Middle East, and through online learning. For more information, visit www.embryriddle.edu.

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