India needs to develop sensors to keep aircraft combat-ready

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Neil, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2010
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    To ensure military aircraft are fit for combat operations any time, India has to develop sensor technology with condition monitoring system as a vital part of their maintenance, a top defence scientist said Friday.

    "We need to develop sensor technology to ensure military aircraft are not grounded longer for want of condition monitoring system in servicing and maintaining them, as we cannot be importing sensors every time we have new or more aircraft," Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (Cemilac) director-general and chief executive K. Tamilmani said at a defence conference here.

    Condition monitoring (CM) is a major component of predictive maintenance. It is also a process of monitoring a parameter of condition in machinery like vibration or temperature to identify any change, which indicates an imminent fault or defect.

    Highlighting the significance of sensor-based condition monitoring of aircraft, its subsystems and engines, Tamilmani said the process was relevant for multiple reasons, including the operational fitness and extension of their lifespan.

    "Condition monitoring is a critical part of fleet maintenance and servicing for optimal utilisation of aircraft and determines their longevity. It reduces the lifecycle management cost of operational fleet and minimise delays in repairs and overhauling," he said at the 'National Conference on Condition Monitoring'.

    The two-day conference has been organised by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) of the state-run Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Condition Monitoring Society of India (CMSI), based at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

    Lauding commercial airlines like Jet Airways for condition monitoring of its passenger aircraft fleet and ensuring over 99 percent maintenance in its daily operations, Tamilmani said in contrast about 40 percent of Russian-made Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets in the Indian Air Force combat fleet remain grounded for want of condition monitoring and serviceability.

    "About 40 percent (116 aircraft) of the 290 Sukhois are on ground due to maintenance and service issues. If the operational fitness of the Sukhoi fleet is increased to 70-80 percent from 60 percent, the air force will be able to save a lot and ensure the fighter jets are not on ground longer than required," Tamilmani said, stressing on the importance of condition monitoring.

    With each Sukhoi costing Rs.400 crore, grounding 116 of the total fleet will mean fighters valued at Rs.46,400 crore are on ground instead of being in flying condition all the time.

    "I hope DRDO and its research centres such as Aeronautical Development Agency and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), which are involved in the design and development of Tejas, the light combat aircraft (LCA) over the last two decades, will develop sensor technology to ensure their condition monitoring after the fighters are inducted into the IAF fleet," Tamilmani noted.

    CMSI president V. Bhujanga Rao said the greatest advantage of condition monitoring was its ability to alert the user about the impending failure after detecting changes in the respective parameters of any aircraft or aero engine or any sub-systems.

    "Condition monitoring systems estimate the condition of a machine from sensor measurements. It gives clues to estimate life or degradation overtime in terms of a machine's life cycle management," he said.

    India needs to develop sensors to keep aircraft combat-ready | Business Standard
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