Helicopter Usage Monitoring Systems

Even small amounts of ice accretion can cause major problems.

Reaping the benefits

The helicopter industry is rapidly expanding the use of iPad and smartphone applications to manage a single aircraft or entire fleets through the support of HUMs. Leonardo helicopters Heliwise Services is designed to operate in a web-based environment, and Bell's MissionLink is an OEM-integrated solution provided for current Bell production helicopters.

What's also intriguing is that HUMS data products and services are reaping the benefits of commercial and con­sumer level investment. So helo applications will continue to get better and less expensive, a benefit of the HUMS data provider and you, the operator. An ex­ample is the various satcom services that don't need line of sight for data service, but at some point use the internet to deliver data and reports.

The direction of both the technology and the services is an economy of health, which is really all about efficiency. So the cost of safety that helped spur the revolution in HUMS reflect the cold facts that better maintenance improves bottom line performance, increases capacity and helps maintain capital investment.

Variety of services for HUMS

At HAI 2018, there were displayed a number of noteworthy products and services. This growth is inclusive of the service itself, HUMS equipment, satcom data service, and the analysis and reporting services offered by OEMs and MROs.

One of the major growth developments in the HUMS business is the variety of services offered. There are also options on how to store, how to move the data from the aircraft, analyze, and report it. The competition is increasing because each of these segments is a specialty in itself, so the results are more services and varied pricing tailored to fit different operations.

Offerings of more portable data capture products have also improved, and in many cases also include smaller and more affordable data communications systems. But one that is emerging is lightweight and affordable communications instruments which are a key ingredient to the growth of the HUMS service industry.

Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters introduced its Flyscan service last year with Global Helicopter Service, a German operator. This is part of an overall digital move by the OEM, spreading a wide net across all aspects of the operational process, from manuals to fully integrating critical maintenance data, to services that supply spare parts and perform repairs.

The Flyscan service, as stated by the company, is a "true predictive maintenance" capability to analyze HUMS data. Flyscan is now integrated with the Airbus HCare program, and offers 3 levels of service where no infrastructure is required to capture or manage the data. The different services include data transfer with varying degrees of frequency of reporting, up to a hotline service.


Leonardo Helicopters is providing Heliwise Services and connecting them from the aircraft to the operators' PEDs. Heliwise services include what they call Advanced Anomaly Detection (AAD) and Advanced Vibration Data Mining (AVDM) tools to get to the answers and reduce the analysis workload.

Heliwise is designed to operate in a web-based environment and, like some of the others, will grow in the amount of data provided and the graphics user interface to support maintenance actions and business level decision-making. You can now download the Heliwise app directly to your smartphone to monitor either a single aircraft or a whole fleet.


Bell Helicopter's MissionLink is an OEM-integrated solution provided for current Bell production helicopters. Touted as the cornerstone and "missing link" to more reliable service and "greater productivity," MissionLink can include vibration health data for drive systems, engines and rotors.

MissionLink also captures flight parameter data, and the services offer phases of flight breakdown from the Bell 429 and 412EPI. As an indication of the standards design aspects of a modern helicopter, all of the current MissionLink features–and some planned for future release–are provided for the Bell 525 Relentless. Bell goes on to say that their goal is to make maintaining an aircraft effortless, and their system will provide operational and financial peace-of-mind.

Bell has introduced MissionLink and has coined its HUMS product as Intelligence-Analysis-Intuitive-Free. And to get the message out, they have tied the integration of MissionLink into part of the options list presented to buyers when purchasing a helicopter.
The company is clear in its message, "Bell Helicopter is currently offering the benefits of MissionLink to our customers at no additional charge." When was the last time you saw that on an OEM website?


Honeywell's Sky Connect Tracker III and the Aspire 200 high data rate communications system are also some recent innovations in the HUMS market, providing the means to communicate the data.

Aspire 200 was actually designed for helos, so now operators have a means and technology that gets the data from their helicopter to the service department to be analyzed.

Sky Connect Tracker III also provides Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) as well as condition data for rotor blades, transmission, engine parameters, and flight controls. The system also monitors vibration. And if a problem or discrepancy occurs, the data is automatically sent to the user or dispatch.

Sky Connect Tracker III is also set up for mobile apps, and provides aircraft location, mapping, alert management, and 2-way messaging capabilities to your PED.
Honeywell has also entered the portable carry-on vibration monitoring product field with the Vibrex 2000+ that can collect and provide a user analysis of components like the drive train, gearbox, shafts, rotor system and other components.

This device includes a small data acquisition set, display unit, software and a carry-on sensors kit. The VXP also integrates with tachometer sensors through out the aircraft. The Enhanced Vibrex 2000+ (EV2K+) has been developed to provide some additional features such as aircraft balance charts, and propeller balance saves and recall.

Future of helo health monitoring

While I was driving recently my truck announced on my "flight display" it was time for a service and system check. The options offered were to proceed by pushing "yes" and so I took the bait. My machine went through some hidden process while I drove to my destination. A few minutes later, the system announced the maintenance review and data transmission event was complete and that an email had been sent to me.

I received a report with color-coded graphics on various parts of the truck–all was green.
The aviation industry is fast approaching this kind of readiness check, it's the mission that counts, not the process, and that's where the money is.

Glenn Connor is president of Discover Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializing in the development of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.


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