HUMS & MRO for Mission Operators | AirMed&Rescue

2nd Aug 2022

A look into how the collection of aircraft technical parameters through the likes of health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) are developing critical mass in the air medical sector

This article was originally published in the August 2022 edition of AirMed&Rescue


by Mario Pierbon


The role of HUMS is to help in proactive identification of any exceedances, triggering a need for taking a corrective action. Newer systems have the ability to collect and analyse information from sensors strategically placed in critical systems of the aircraft, observes Tim Alden, Strategic Partnerships Director at Rusada. “But unlike old trend monitoring techniques that required PCMCIA downloads sent for analysis by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), modern solutions are able to transmit information live, or near live, direct to operators.


"They in turn are armed with solutions that not only read the data but also make extrapolations and predictions of failure points,” he says. “As such, we move from a condition of waiting for a return on analysis, to a condition of dayby-day or mission-by-mission monitoring. Knowing which system is behaving outside of the desired operating range allows one to make much more informed decisions when planning maintenance.”


Systems integration


Rusada believes there is significant benefit in coupling the recorded data from flights or missions to the physical configuration of the aircraft. “The monitoring applications monitor systems or assemblies, whereas the maintenance systems hold the record of the components within the systems,” says Alden. It is important to be able to look at the whole picture, according to Alden.


“If a system is heading towards a limit of unacceptable performance, what events happened to the components associated with that system prior to the event? Has there been a change of a component in the system? Has the system been inspected recently as part of routine maintenance? Has the operating environment changed?” he says. “All that data is captured in a maintenance information system on a daily basis. Generating comparative reporting, or – better – still an alerting dashboard that complements the monitoring system, could allow the operator to make even better informed decisions, not only about the aircraft experiencing the irregular event, but the rest of the fleet too.”


Obstacles to integration


For operators and maintainers, the main obstacle is certification of the devices and the acceptance of the need in the market, according to Rusada. “There is a notion in the world that information is so plentiful and data devices so ubiquitous that the cost of such systems should be the same as a streaming service subscription, or the price of an app. It is therefore difficult for maintenance teams to justify investment in what appears to be just another set of fancy graphs,” says Alden.


“But for those companies that are fully understanding the cost of downtime, misdiagnosed defects, and unnecessary part purchases, the prevention of those problems and associated costs fully justifies the cost of integrated data and analysis. Such data can also provide a greater level of confidence to crew both in the air and on the ground and facilitate decisionmaking.”