GE Aviation was selected by Bell Textron Inc. to provide the Aircraft Health Awareness System for the Bell 360 Invictus attack/reconnaissance helicopter.
According to a GE statement, the health awareness system integrates decades of GE’s proven health management technologies on rotorcraft with their vehicle management system on fixed wing to drive increased operational safety and availability of the fleet.
GE Aviation is part of Team Invictus, which also includes eight other companies, producing the Bell 360 Invictus prototype submission as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitive prototype program. Bell 360 Invictus is one of the two designs selected for the FARA competition with the other being Lockheed Martin Sikorsky’s Raider X compound coaxial helicopter design.
“GE Aviation is committed to delivering a health awareness solution fusing our rotary wing system that has accumulated in excess of 2.5M flight hours and incorporates 4,500 unique onboard vibration algorithms with our fixed wing configurable onboard maintenance system,” said Christin Rauche, Connected Aircraft executive for GE Aviation. “This integrated solution will enable Bell to demonstrate key operational and sustainment objectives using its ground-based enterprise systems to provide the US Army with data driven decision making, more efficient troubleshooting and a comprehensive view into aircraft operational availability.”
“Proven technology like GE’s health management and experience in data analytics drives timely/actionable information into the hands of our warfighters,” said Chris Gehler, vice president and program director for FARA at Bell. “Bell is managing Team Invictus as we work together to show how cutting-edge technology will give soldiers the ability to confidently operate in MDO’s complex and contested battlespace. The effort complements and carries forward the work GE has already performed along with Bell in the V-280 System Integration Lab (SIL).”
GE Aviation’s Health Awareness System is an end-to-end solution that advances traditional rotorcraft Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) capabilities by combining it with proven fixed wing aircraft health management solutions. The system includes autonomously gathering and transmission of rotorcraft system configuration, health, usage and maintenance data.
GE’s on-board and off-board system securely manage data transmission from the aircraft, decode and process the health state of the rotorcraft and execute maintenance analytics. The system integrates seamlessly with enduring-fleet-capable, modular additional ground systems such as Bell’s MissionLink for data distribution and visualization to predict maintenance events and increase mission readiness for the fleet.
“The health awareness system is the first of its kind and applies advanced data driven aircraft maintenance concepts to the rotorcraft market,” Rauche continued. “The system uses operational data from the platform to predict maintenance events and significantly reduce maintenance times.”
In addition to the Aircraft Health Awareness System, GE Aviation is also providing the 3,000-SHP T901 turboshaft engine for Bell 360 Invictus.
Bell 360 Invictus
In October 2019, Bell Textron Inc. announced a new rotorcraft, Bell 360 Invictus, as the company’s entrant for the U.S. Army’s FARA Competitive Prototype program.
Bell’s offering has a typical helicopter configuration with a single main rotor and a Fenestron (ducted tail rotor). Invictus’ rotor system design is based on the rotor system of Bell 525 Relentless helicopter, which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). The 360 Invictus has wings which will reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability.
The helicopter’s main engine will be a single General Electric T901 turboshaft engine, with supplemental power from a Pratt & Whitney PW207D1 turboshaft engine.
According to the company, the Bell 360 Invictus meets or exceeds all requirements as laid out under the FARA contract.