The Israeli air force is equipping its unmanned air vehicles with a total health and usage management system (T-HUMS), which uses vibration analysis to provide early warning of a potential critical engine failure.
Based on a patented technology developed by RSL Electronics in Israel, T-HUMS can detect developing malfunctions at an early stage by continuously monitoring the vibration of engine parts, says company chief executive Ephraim Zuckerman.
Each preliminary indication of a change of pattern is detected, enabling an operator to recall a UAV before it suffers an in-flight shutdown, or to advise post-landing that a degradation has occurred.
© Israel Aerospace Industries
As UAVs are predominantly single-engined designs (Israel Aerospace Industries' Heron 1 pictured above), an in-flight engine shutdown usually results in the destruction or severe damage of an air vehicle and/or its payload. RSL's T-HUMS technology is already used with the Israeli air force's Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, and will soon be installed on its Sikorsky CH-53 transports.
Israel is meanwhile equipping its Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters with rotor tip warning lights to allow safe night formation flights.
The enhancement - which is undetectable to ground forces - was incorporated with the air force's Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and CH-53s as a safety measure following a 1997 night-time collision involving two of the latter type that killed 73 Israeli personnel.
Source: Flight International