New Apache Helicopter Monitoring System

Lieutenant Colonel Yair

The IAF is installing a new system which will warn helicopter pilots about possible system failures in real-time, diminishing danger of in-flight problems

Date: 25/10/2010, 6:52 PM     Author: Bar Josephine Dadon, Bamahane Magazine

This month the IDF (Zahal) has been celebrating health and fitness, and in turn the Israel Air Force is planning on even turning its Python Apache Helicopter into an especially healthy one. A new Israeli system which earned the name “Helicopter Health” will send warning signals in real-time about any internal systems problems. The pilots will then be able to receive a message while they are still in the air about the possible future problem. The Aircraft Division of the IAF hopes that this new tool, which is currently in its final testing phases and is expected to become operational soon, will minimize the risk of helicopter crashes.

Currently a number of sensors are being installed on the Python Apache helicopters which measure, among other factors, temperatures, turbulence, and acceleration. These are transferred to the unique MPU computer, which is provided in each Apache helicopter and gathers data during the flight. The system, which was developed by the Israeli LSR company, processes the data and sends real-time notifications on the status of the different components. In the event that there is concern of a system failure, the pilot will receive a notification about the future problem which could possibly develop, while he is still flying.

IAF personnel estimate that in coming years the data taken in the skies will already be able to be transferred directly to the Corps Staff, using an internal Air Force channel. With the help of this innovation, officers will be able to be updated every day on the “health” of their helicopters, and will be able to identify repeated and frequent problems.

“What is special in our system is that the entire process takes place during the flight,” the Head of the Aircraft Branch, Lt. Col. Shlomi Conferti said. “In similar systems in the United States, data analysis occurs on the ground station and not in real-time. This new method provides the helicopters with security.”

The IAF is noting the security-related advantages as well as the economic advantages of this new system. The close observation of the various helicopter components will enable the IAF to use distinct individualized maintenance methods in the future. Instead of clinging to the manufacturer’s instructions, the IAF will be able to replace components only when the need arises, and will know exactly when and where to repair.