Field may include excess vibrations and stress concentrations

Field of the InventionThis invention relates to integrationof health usage and monitoring systems in helicopters to monitor the health andusage of engine and/ or drive components.BACKGROUNDHelicopters may encounter unexpected anomalies duringoperation. In some cases, the anomalies may occur during an unusual combinationof circumstances, such as an unusual manoeuvre being performed, or anorientation of a vehicle component relative to wind, rain, snow. These anomaliesmay include excess vibrations and stress concentrations in different componentsof helicopter. It could lead tofatigue failure. Material under fatigue tends to exhibit brittle and suddenfailure which affects the reliability of the system.

Fuselage or rotors ofhelicopter could fail in mid-air without prior warning under fatigue.  Structural health monitoring system (HUMS) is used to measure the healthof the system and predict its remaining life.  It is a daunting task for a maintenancetechnician to make the diagnosis and analysis of the anomaly.

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Furthermore,sensors of the vehicle may not capture all of the possible data relevant to theanomaly, thus making diagnosis and analysis even more difficult.ABSTRACT A health monitoring system for monitoring a vehicle andmethod for operating are provided. The HUMS system consists of different sensorsinstalled throughout the airframe. It is linked to a central computer unit withan interface system, data recording and storage system.

This helps indiagnosing if the helicopter is likely to develop faults that would need anintervention. This system is monitoring the health of all significant vibratingand spinning parts such as engines, gearboxes, shafts, fans, rotor systems,fuselage etc. The data is collect from the interface system corresponding tothe anomaly from a user of helicopter.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a helicopter, in accordancewith an embodiment FIG. 2 is a flow diagramillustrating a method for operating the health monitoring system, in accordancewith an embodiment. DETAILED DESCRIPTION The health monitoring system is used to diagnose and reportanomalies in a vehicle.

As discussed in further detail below, the healthmonitoring system detects an anomaly occurring with respect to one or morecomponents of the vehicle. The anomaly may be any unexpected occurrenceaffecting one or more components in the vehicle. The health monitoring system,upon detection of the anomaly, gathers information from the pilot as well asfrom sensors or other systems on the helicopter.

The health monitoring systemgenerates one or more questions to ask the pilot about the anomaly or ask thepilot to perform one or more functions to gather more data to aid in the analysisof the anomaly. FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a vehicle 100, in accordance withan embodiment. The vehicle 100 is a helicopter.

The vehicle includes a healthmonitoring system 110. The health monitoring system 110 can be used to diagnoseand report vehicle anomalies. The health monitoring system 110 includes atleast one processor 120. The processor 120 can be a central processing unit(CPU), an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a field programmablegate array (FPGA), a micro controller, or any other logic device or combination.

The processor 120 can be integrated with an external system brought into thevehicle 100, such as a tablet, laptop computer or cellular phone. The vehiclesystem(s) 130 incorporated into a vehicle 100 can vary depending upon the typeof helicopter. Some possible vehicle systems 130 include, health and usagemanagement systems (HUMS), flight management systems (FMS), navigation systems,global positioning systems (GPS), fluid monitoring systems, cockpits, dashboards, central maintenance computer (CMC), satellite com munication systems,engine systems, power management systems, environmental systems (both insidethe vehicle and outside), hydraulic systems, fuel distribution systems, communicationsystems (radios, Satcom, etc.), steering systems, gearbox systems, coolingsystems, heating systems, a user monitoring system (heart rate, head position,point of gaze, etc.).

The data from the vehicle is then transferred to theprocessor. The vehicle 100 may further include one or more sensors 140. Thesensor(s) 140 may include, wheel speed sensors, vibration sensors, engine rpmsensors, altimeters, air speed sensors, wind speed sensors, barometric pressuresensors, angle of attack sensors, flap location sensors, tachometers, tirepressure sensors, temperature sensors, Voltage sensors, current sensors,conductivity sensors, strain sensors, particulate sensors, operator controlposition sensors, valve position sen sors, flow rate sensors, viscositysensors, mass flow sensors, gas composition sensors, individual gas sensors(O2, N2, etc.), moisture sensors, or any other vehicle sensor.One or more of the vehicle systems 130 and sensors 140 transmitdata to the processor 120 of the health monitoring system 110. However, theprocessor 120 may also extract data by monitoring one or more system buses 150.The system buses 150 include any hardwired bus, wireless bus or combination.

Thedata from vehicle systems 130 and sensors 140 is stored in memory 160. Thememory 160 may be any combination of volatile and non-volatile memory. In theembodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the memory 160 is located on the vehicle 100.

However, the memory 160 could also be stored on external hard drives. The datastored in the memory 160 is used by the health monitoring system 110 todiagnose and report vehicle anomalies. The health monitoring system 110 furtherincludes one or more interface systems 180. The interface system(s) 180 allowthe processor 120 to receive user input. The interface system(s) 180 include, voicerecognition systems, touchscreen display systems, displays, keyboards, mice,trackballs, or the like or any combination.

When an anomaly occurs the data is passed from processor tointerface system 180 indicating the pilot of the anomaly. FIG. 2 is a flowdiagram illustrating an exemplary method 200 for operating the healthmonitoring system 110, in accordance with an embodiment.