Comprehensive Aircraft Health Monitoring for Helicopter Air Ambulance Operators

October 25 2021
Comprehensive Aircraft Health Monitoring for Helicopter Air Ambulance Operators

During their vital flights, Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) aircraft must be ready when needed and capable of performing at the highest levels for both medical passengers and crew. To make the maintenance and operational decisions required to meet these challenges, HAA operators need data.

At GPMS, we’re committed to putting integrated monitoring systems like Foresight MX within reach of all operators, no matter the line of business. At the same time, we recognize there are some sectors where the need and value proposition of our Foresight MX really stand out. In the Helicopter Air Ambulance sector, where operational reliability and safety are especially important, the data and insights provided by Foresight MX are critical.

Foresight MX Ensures Flight Readiness – Even during Remote Operations

HAA operations (also known as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)) require aircraft and crew to always be ready to respond in emergency situations. Foresight MX delivers HAA operators with early fault detection and remaining useful life data, so they can anticipate trending maintenance issues and ensure availability.

Maximizing performance and operating time is important for answering medical calls, but it is just as critical for avoiding downtime and AOG-related contract penalties. Many contracts require uptimes and limited unscheduled maintenance. Foresight MX helps keep your aircraft ready, in the air, and away from costly penalties for AOG events.

Additionally, many HAA aircraft are operated away from their base. During these remote operations, Foresight is continually logging key engine, flight, and component data. This vital information is automatically offloaded and can be accessed via cloud-based interface with any browser-enabled device (PC, laptop, smartphone, etc.), providing pilots, operations, and maintenance teams the information they need to easily assess the performance and status of the aircraft.

Foresight MX provides FDM capability, ensuring compliance with FAA mandates, and adds HUMS which the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) ‘strongly recommends’ in its draft 12th Edition 

In 2015, the FAA implemented new operational procedures and additional equipment requirements for HAA operations in Advisory Circular #135-14B. Flight Data Monitoring Systems were listed among the new equipment requirements that must be equipped by April 23, 2018. As a result, HAA operators have been incorporating FDM solutions into their operations as part of the equipment configuration for new aircraft purchases, while also seeking compatible solutions to retrofit legacy aircraft.

Standalone Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring solutions, including camera-based systems, might meet HAA operational mandates outlined by the FAA, but these basic systems miss vitally important information for operational safety, such as helicopter engine and component health data. By monitoring how the aircraft is being operated (FDM) and how the machine itself is operating (HUMS), Foresight MX provides both sides of the safety equation.

By combining the FDM and mechanical diagnostics and prognostics into one stand-alone solution, HAA operators receive a predictive aircraft and fleet monitoring solution without stacking single system costs, adding weight, or sacrificing interoperability. 

Significantly, the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) lists HUMS as a ‘strongly encouraged’ onboard technology in the draft 12th Edition of its standards. See https://www.camts.org for more details. Historically, CAMTS encourages technologies initially and then requires them in follow-on editions.

Foresight MX Has a Demonstrable ROI, Saving Money While Improving Ops and Safety

GPMS worked with Conklin & de Decker to document ways in which the technology pays out more than you pay in. To get an idea of your return, ask yourself, what would be the effect on cost if a system …

  • Reduced hours associated with rotor balancing by 80% and maintenance flights to near 0?
  • Smoothed rotors < .05 ips, saving 1% on fuel and reducing vibration-induced drivetrain maintenance?
  • Captured the exact length and depth of exceedances, eliminating unnecessary inspections?
  • Pinpointed the exact mechanical issue before you opened up the aircraft, speeding the fix?
  • Enable you to hire less experienced mechanics who’s skills could be supplemented by the tool?
  • Caught issues before they become costly/serious (bad bearing) or added to overhaul expenses?
  • Prevented a chips light, surprise aircraft landing, and costly extraction back to base?
  • Gave you, through RUL estimates, time to plan, so you could carry fewer parts and avoid rush orders?

Finally, remote monitoring systems boost asset values at the time of sale with detailed data on current aircraft state and a full history of flight and mechanical issues.

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Foresight MX provides a robust FDM solution, automated Rotor Track & Balancing, and predictive HUMS (engine and drivetrain machine condition monitoring), in a powerful, all-in-one package. These integrated functions deliver HAA operators with the detailed information to support maintenance and operational decisions that can dramatically improve readiness, cost, and safety.

Why settle for simple FDM? Get Foresight MX and get it all.