We get behind the controls of a Magni M16 gyroplane, chat with NASA engineers about the Mars Helicopter, look at Helinet’s firefighting Black Hawk & reflect on the legacy left by Universal Helicopters.
Foresight MX, GPMS’s predictive health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), is now active on Municipal Enterprises Limited’s new Bell 407GXi.
Municipal’s Jeff Byrne, who serves as both pilot and maintainer on an aircraft used for construction site inspections and executive transport, described using the Foresight system as “almost too easy”.
“When you land, it uploads the aircraft data automatically. It takes two seconds, and then the new information is there on the screen. You look at the dashboard and if you see all greens, you know you are good to go,” Byrne said.
Foresight is a predictive helicopter health monitoring system designed for operator friendliness. The onboard system automates data acquisitions in flight and automatically performs data transfer post flight via WiFi or cellular. Cloud-based software provides a dashboard conveying unambiguous information about drivetrain and engine health, rotor track and balance status, as well as multi-parameter flight data and exceedances.
In contrast to legacy HUMS products, no specialized interpretive skill sets or services are required. The system uses a red, orange and green color system to convey machine health, as well as zero to one health indicator with one signalling suggested maintenance action.
Byrne had never used a smart helicopter solution before and described his experience with the technology: “It’s strange at first, but then it’s so easy. There is no more scratching your head. If you think the tail rotor has vibration, you don’t need to guess anymore. You just check in the system.”
Foresight provides engine and component monitoring with prognostic remaining useful life data to guide predictive maintenance, as well as rotor track and balance capability with adjustment recommendations at the end of every flight. But the system also integrates helicopter flight data monitoring (HFDM) with exceedance tracking. As such, it provides all-in-one capabilities typically found in separate HUMS and HFDM systems.
Byrne said Foresight has “saved an incredible amount of time on RTB and has given us an engine performance check every day.” But he also spoke to the sense of safety the system provides. “The drivetrain monitoring gives great peace of mind.”
The Foresight HUMS is an optional add-on for both new and aftermarket Bell 407s. The onboard system has a supplemental type certificate (STC) on the GX, GXP, and GXi, with the Bell 407 Analog STC slated to be complete in the coming year. The Foresight system is available on the 407 exclusively through Aeronautical Accessories, a Bell Brand. At the same time, GPMS has ensured that Foresight can serve mixed fleet operators seeing a single HUMS+HFDM solution. GPMS has STCs in the works on a variety of light and medium aircraft, including the Bell 212/412, 429, AS350 ‘AStar’, and the MD 500 series.