Helicopter rotors are sometimes fitted with instrumentation such as targetting lasers or radar. Typically data collection from these instruments requires slip ring assemblies to be attached to the main rotor shafts to transfer power up to the instrumentation package and pass data down. This is an expensive and maintenance intensive communications link requiring high precision components.
The Army has funded and participated in projects to develop and test the technologies necessary to realize a wireless system concept that could be used on any type of helicopter. Wireless, in this case, refers to the lack of slip-rings or contacts or wires to pass power or electrical signals to and from the rotating assembly.
Now, the Army has developed a workable solution for collecting data from an aircraft rotor head that is spinning. The concept uses a battery or self-powered instrumentation package on the rotor head of a rotary wing aircraft for the purpose of collecting data for post-flight processing in addition to making the data available for real-time monitoring. Wireless transmitters on the rotor head send data to receivers on the fuselage which can then be wirelessly sent or sent by wire to data processors on the aircraft. Embodiments have been fabricated and employed in a successful flight test program.
- Data can be transmitted to the ground for improved decision making, used on the flight deck in real time or saved on removable media for post-flight review
- Uses commercially available components
- US patent 9,826,367 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Army researchers