Aircraft maintainers and operators who use Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems are able to determine if structural damage has occurred, when the damage event occurred and precisely where the damage is located. A SHM system feeds into a Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) regime, where aircraft maintainers can efficiently direct their resources towards the aircraft that actually require repair, the result is less overall maintenance effort and increased aircraft availability. Curtiss-Wright provide Acra KAM-500 to SHM integrators who require flexible, high-fidelity data management units.
What is SHM?
SHM systems aim to monitor aircraft components in near real-time and detect structural defects when they happen. Rather than just reporting loading cycles on a structural components, a SHM system will report actual changes in structural components.
SHM techniques have been used for many years on the ground for aircraft inspection and overhaul. The terms NDT or NDI (non-destructive test or inspection) are typically used in this context. SHM is becoming important for new composite airframes where traditional metal fatigue models are not useful and where damage is often not apparent at the surface.
Challenges and Solutions?
There is a good awareness of the benefits of SHM within the aerospace community for many years, however it is only now that widespread adoption has taken off, driven in a large part by the introduction of composite structural components. SHM solutions require
- High-fidelity data acquisition hardware
- Robust damage detection algorithms
Curtiss-Wright has partnered with Stratosphere to offer complete SHM solutions that combine Acra KAM-500 instrumentation units with Critical Materials tailored detection algorithms.
Our SHM solutions do not rely on bulky NDI equipment and techniques, but rather use a minimized number of low-cost sensors to guarantee a specified POD (probability of detection), e.g. 12 accelerometers optimally distributed on a wing-surface to guarantee detection of defects with surface area >1cm2.