Project will monitor aircraft hydraulic fluid

A consortium is to develop fibre optic sensors and also alternative optical and electrochemical sensors for monitoring the quality of aircraft hydraulic fluid.

At present, these fluids, which are hygroscopic, are monitored by sampling, which is often done less than once a year, resulting in damage to aircraft control systems.

The project is called, "Super Sky Sense" and the project consortium consists of Airbus France, EADS Deutschland, Lufthansa Technik Budapest, Loughborough University, Instytut Lotnictwa, Compañía Española de Sistemas Aeronáuticos S.A., Sofrance, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, GIE EADS CCR, Centre de Transfert de Technologies Ceramiques y Group D'etudes en Procedes de Separation, Tecnalia and Interlab.

Tecnalia, based near Bilbao in the heart of the Basque country in Spain will be designing the structure that will house the different sensors. The design will comply with aeronautical standards and will be tested in such a way that the qualification and homologation time of the product resulting from the project will be minimised.

This project proposes the development of an optimum maintenance concept based on an autonomous onboard system able to monitor the condition of hydraulic fluid and initiate programmed replacement when necessary. This increases the useful life of the fluid and prevents damage caused by its degradation. When external replacement of the fluid is unavoidable, this can be programmed to coincide with normal maintenance schedules, thanks to the predictive options of this new monitoring system.

Tom Shelley

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