NASA could be operating large-scale in-flight experiments in the 2010-11 timeframe as part of its intelligent vehicle health management (IVHM) programme.

The experiments would be part of the US agency's investigation of data mining to enable intelligent vehicle health management that can monitor component degradation and produce diagnosis and prognosis of aircraft systems' performance.

NASA is seeking to work with industry and academia and will involve all its aeronautics research centres in the IVHM work that will have a budget of up to $4 million in this current fiscal year and $1.3 million next year.

The data mining research has a budget of $1 million in this financial year and then $500,000 in fiscal 2008 and 2009. The agency's fiscal 12-month period starts in the preceding year's October and ends in the following September.

While NASA recognises the existence of health monitoring technology, its IVHM plan is to realise real-time prognosis of likely failures.

"There is one flight experiment in the [third quarter] for a different project, but we will pull data off of [that experiment's] vehicle and incorporate that into the data mining laboratory that is being established," says NASA aviation safety programme acting director Herb Schlikennmaier.

That laboratory is located at the NASA Ames Research Center, where IVHM's principal investigator Ashok Srivastav is also based. Srivastav's laboratory's databases could use paper-based, pilot-supplied data sources as well as data from aircraft electronic systems. Data from landing-gear performance is to be a focus in calendar year 2008.