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Army Researchers Develop Acoustic Emission Sensors for Black Hawk

The U.S. Army has developed networked acoustic emission sensors designed to scan an H-60 Black Hawk for airframe damage.

The Army said Thursday, Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center have developed a technology that can instantly notify flight crew on structural damage upon occurrence.

The effort began around 2015 with the ARL’s studies on rotorcraft airframe health monitoring.

“Future Army airframe structures are required to be lighter, safer and ultra-reliable,” said Mulugeta Haile, research aerospace engineer at the ARL.

“To achieve these the Army must adopt a combined strategy of implementing advanced structural design methods, improved structural materials and integrated damage sensing and risk prediction capabilities,” he added.

Haile also stated that they chose acoustic emission because other methods including ultrasonic and radiography still require an external energy source which may affect other systems within the aircraft.

Haile, along with a team consisting of Jaret Riddick, Nathaniel Bordick and other ARL partners, worked together to clarify the the mechanisms of the full-scale damage detection system that employs signal distortion control parameters, acquisition timing control and 3-D printed sensor capsules.

The Army currently makes use of the phase maintenance paradigm method for aircraft sustainment.

The phase maintenance paradigm requires scheduled inspection and maintenance, making the method costly and inefficient.

The Army’s new damage detection technology may cut maintenance costs and enable repairs to commence upon demand.

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