By their nature, rotary-wing operations carry an inherently higher risk than those of fixed-wing aircraft, especially as most helicopters routinely operate at low level and in all weathers. Many also operate in difficult terrain and challenging environments away from well-equipped airfields.
Honeywell Aerospace (Hall A, Stand 073) wis a leader in the field of aviation safety, and is committed to finding solutions to safety challenges across both the fixed- and rotary-wing worlds. In the helicopter sector, the company has devised many technologies to improve safety, having analysed accident data to identify the key areas of concern. Four of its solutions are being highlighted here at the show that mitigate the top four causes of helicopter accidents, which between them account for 53 per cent of all incidents.
Leading the list of causes are loss of control in flight and powerplant failure. Combining Honeywell’s Sky Connect Tracker III mission management system and its health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) mitigate those risks by providing the ability to record and track aircraft system health, as well as flight data. The HUMS technology monitors the health of engines and spinning parts. Through the Sky Connect Tracker, the system can provide real-time vehicle health tracking, in turn allowing trend monitoring and early warning of potential impending failures. Honeywell and its distributors have recently been authorised by Sikorsky to provide HUMS (with Sky Connect Tracker III to follow) directly to operators of the S-76C++ helicopter.
At third and fourth in the list of accident causes are controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and low-altitude operation. Honeywell’s enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) and traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) have obvious applications in reducing the accident rate in these scenarios.
EGPWS provides both aural and visual warnings of potential CFIT, based on a comprehensive database that includes man-made obstacles, while TCAS provides situational awareness of other air traffic. Both EGPWS and TCAS use accurate data from Honeywell’s radio altimeters.