NAVY taps IAI to Develop Models for Predicting Rotor Loads from Fixed-component Sensor Data and Flight Parameters

Reliably and accurately predicting the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks is important for maintaining aircraft availability, especially as aircraft service lives are being extended. For rotorcraft, accurate prediction of loads imparted to the rotor head over a variety of flight conditions is critical for their fatigue life estimation and maintenance. Since direct mounting of load-measuring sensors on moving components is not feasible, IAI and collaborators at the University of Maryland will develop a technology that incorporates data from sensors located on the fixed components of rotorcraft, and predicts rotor loads with state-of-the-art rotorcraft aerodynamic and structures models. The team will apply their proven rotorcraft models that have been validated and accredited by government, industry and academia. They will use their expertise in rotorcraft simulations and data analysis as applied to both testing and aircraft design, and their expertise in sensor characterization and analysis. A physics-based model will be developed to accurately predict rotor loads during multiple flight conditions, like turbulent flow, buffeting, and the influence of tail rotor interactions. This technology will be applicable to all types of rotary components and machinery, including rotorcraft, heavy rotary machinery and energy generation equipment used by government and industry, especially where required direct measurements of loads on rotating components are impractical and costly. The developed tool can be applied to heavy-use and highly dynamic components and platforms, including fixed-wing aircraft, automobiles, locomotives, and mining equipment. The tool’s modular nature also makes it very flexible, allowing expedited transition to the Navy and in commercial applications.