Monitoring extensively operated aerial platforms

The Israeli air force (IAF) operates combat missions almost every day. Add to that extensive training for many potential scenarios, and you get a much “stretched” inventory.

This situation calls for close monitoring of fatigue in IAF fixed-wing and rotary platforms.

Special teams are developing methods to improve fatigue monitoring – and when one is proven it is implemented as soon as possible. These methods are especially crucial for an air force that operates some very mature types, like the C-130, CH-53 and A-4.

On a recent visit to the IAF I learned of one such method that has already been implemented. The in-house developed system monitors the manoeuvres of a helicopter in order to allow efficient preventive fatigue treatments.

According to a senior IAF source after some companies failed to design such a system a team of engineers designed it, and now it is in testing.

The source said that until now pilots were required to report the performance of manoeuvres that have “fatigue potential”. But experience proved this method is insufficient for the task.

After the completion of the test flights, the plan is to install the system on all the IAF’s helicopters.

The IAF has also developed a “smart patch” – an electronic chip that is attached to crack-prone fuselage sections of an aircraft, offering early warning of the beginning of a crack.

Both systems were designed in the IAF’s engineering department, which is also in charge of the many special systems installed on its fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

These systems are highly classified and lack commercial potential – and therefore have to be designed by the IAF.

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