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Wireless tech ready for helicopters thanks to HIRIS project

Wireless tech ready for helicopters thanks to HIRIS project
Airbus Helicopters H175 HIRIS (Helicopter Innovative Rotating Instrumentation System)

The HIRIS project (Helicopter Innovative Rotating Instrumentation System) decided to leverage technologies from the consumer world to make them applicable to helicopters while taking into account all of the constraints that they have. The technology was attached to the helicopter’s rotors and some of the challenges that the team faced included dealing with rotation speed, temperature and the masking effect of the rotor blades. Nevertheless, they successfully developed a working system based on wireless technology through which data could be transferred from the helicopter’s rotors.

The use of wireless technology for the transmission of data from the rotating assemblies on the aircraft, more specifically, rotors, drive shaft line and blades, is likely to improve the monitoring of the rotating system and hence increase the in-flight safety of personnel. Moreover, an optimised performance due to reduced energy consumption, a reduced carbon footprint and decreased noise footprint are expected.

However, to date wireless technology has not been used to transfer data from rotating devices on helicopters mainly because a lack of maturity level, helicopter integration constraints (CS 29 rules) and environmental constraints (DO160 rules) leading to limitations in terms of usage and compliance with daily operational needs. 

Developing wireless technologies to work in aircraft like helicopters will help Clean Sky and Clean Aviation to achieve our goal of a climate-neutral aviation fleet by 2050.

Wireless tech ready for helicopters thanks to HIRIS project

Using a prototype, HIRIS showed that a large amount of data (~30Mbit/s) could be transferred over the course of a full flight with a level of reliability at least equivalent to a traditional “wire technology”. The HIRIS technology has reached TRL7, and it has already been tested on a H175 helicopter over the course of 33 flight hours, at temperatures of up to 85°C and at rotations of up to 2,500rpm.

Ultimately, this system has been developed specifically for use in helicopters and it will form part of Clean Sky’s RACER demonstrator, which is due to take its maiden flight by the end of 2022. 

Even though HIRIS is a very quiet flight test instrumentation (FTI) system electromagnetic interference (EMI)/ electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) wise, it will not have a direct impact on the EMI/EMC of helicopters in operation.

However, if this technology trend is pushed further, it could become a health monitoring system used in operation and allow to improve safety, performances and carbon footprint in the end.

Safran Data Systems was the main partner for this project, with Airbus Helicopters as the Topic Manager. The overall budget for this project was € 2,709,575, with the EU contributing by € 1,500,000.

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