A consortium of European companies led by the Interlab Group aims to develop a system that will monitor the hydraulic fluid in aircraft.
Because aeronautical hydraulic fluids are hygroscopic, their lifetime is very unpredictable. And since the performance of aircraft hydraulic systems are affected by the condition of the hydraulic fluid, if its degradation is not detected, it could lead to the aircraft control systems being damaged.
What is more, identifying the condition of aircraft hydraulic fluid is difficult, costly and time-consuming and this means that the fluid is normally checked no more than once a year.
The companies in the so-called European ‘Super Sky Sense’ project propose to resolve those issues by developing an autonomous onboard system that is able to monitor the conditions of hydraulic fluid and indicate when replacement is necessary.
This will increase the useful life of the fluid and prevent damage caused by its degradation. When external replacement of the fluid is unavoidable, this can then be programmed to coincide with normal maintenance schedules, thanks to the predictive options of the new monitoring system.
To produce the system, the consortium will develop optical and electrochemical sensors that will be deployed to monitor the fluid. It will also research different techniques for water separation and elimination.
The members of the consortium, including Airbus France, EADS Deutschland, Lufthansa Technik Budapest and Loughborough University, believe that the deployment of such a system will give European aircraft makers a competitive advantage.