Health checks at Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce is developing a continuous health and performance monitoring system for its Trent 900 engine, to be fitted to the Airbus A380.

For four years the company has been working with monitoring specialist Oxford Bio-Signals on the Quick system, which is capable of carrying out real-time analysis of the health of the engine, and is due to enter commercial service on the A380 in 2006.

But, in the meantime, the team is continuing to develop Quick, and is planning to add a performance modelling system to its demonstrator model in October.

This software upgrade, which may or may not make it on to the A380 in 2006 depending on how long it takes the team to fit and test it, will allow Quick to analyse the performance of internal components, and spot any wear, said Paul Anuzis, chief reliability engineer for airlines at Rolls-Royce. ‘It will give us a good overall view of what the internal components look like,’ he said.

This will enable the system to detect problems such as mass re-distribution, which occurs when the mass balance of rotating components is altered through the loss or bending of small bits of metal within the part.

Rolls-Royce has also been working with Data Systems & Solutions on the Quick system, which uses a set of sensors to constantly measure parameters such as temperature, pressure and speed. It then uses signal processing techniques to analyse the information they provide and produce a continuous health check of the engine.

‘One of the innovations of the system is that we are not chasing known faults, we are chasing engine normality, so we are looking at anything that looks suspicious. That can sometimes be a rod for our own back, because it can light up like a Christmas tree,’ said Anuzis.

The sensors that are used for Quick include vibration accelerometers, as vibration is an excellent indicator of mechanical faults, according to Anuzis. The team also intends to investigate the use of embedded sensors, capable of providing greater coverage of the engine’s health.

On the web