Eclypse Test Equipment Pins Down Elusive Wiring Faults
NCMS Member Spotlight: Eclypse International
Wire degradation produces costly and difficult-to-identify faults that can endanger operators, limit aircraft readiness, and lead to additional failures down the road. This month, NCMS is spotlighting one of its members whose products help the U.S. military and private industry isolate degraded wiring, drastically reduce the necessity of repair, and conduct aircraft maintenance in a fraction of the time it took using older methods:
Eclypse International Corporation, a recognized supplier of circuit analysis equipment, makes products specifically tailored to the demands of modern manufacturing and maintenance environments, as well as the to the strict standards of the U.S. military. Eclypse products are used by the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. military, as well as across the aviation, aerospace, and other commercial industries. They verify the circuit integrity of wire interconnect systems, electronic assemblies, and electrical boxes and harbor a wide range of built-in measurement capabilities and stimulus sources. Eclypse products employ open software frameworks that allow customization and integration with outside resources such as databases, online documentation, and personalized data screens, and they can be used with automated test procedures developed to support multiple devices and platforms.
Automated Testing Equipment
Eclypse’s Automated Wire Test Set (AWTS) is a group of analyzers that quickly identify and report faulty conditions to the maintainers, save time and cost, and increase overall system reliability. Crucially, it performs electrical and electronic systems diagnostics in a fraction of the time it takes technicians to perform tests with manual equipment. Its set configurations were designed to meet the arduous demands of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
After years of participating in several development and study projects, in 2008, the DOD’s Joint Automatic Test Systems Directorate chose the Eclypse AWTS analyzer as the equipment of choice for all platforms. A multi-million-dollar acquisition contract was awarded for AWTS equipment to be used in support of Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft.
Eclypse also developed a specialization for circuit analyzers for use in both controlled and harsh environments that met requirements set by the DOD. Its other products and services range from Commercial Console Test Systems to Ruggedized Test Systems (RTS) to hand-held fault locators to data analysis capabilities.
Certification Test Protocol (CTP):
Eclypse employs Certification Test Protocol (CTP), a precise test methodology that locates electrical subsystem problems related to “No Fault Found” (NFF) and “Can Not Duplicate” (CND) issues. A large majority of NFF issues in aircraft will result in imminent additional in-flight failures unless the problem is identified and remedied. Many of these faults are caused by wire degradation and are not the result of a “bad box” or “bad component.” Unfortunately, traditional methods of aircraft repair rely on maintainers to remove and replace boxes, leading to unnecessary cost and waste. However, CTP allows the test operators to detect small changes in resistive values as the stimulus applied is altered.
The goal of CTP is to test for physical uniformity across wires of common lengths and electrical characteristics. Non-uniformity can easily be detected as test results are displayed visually in a concise and easy-to-read manner. CTP detects more than just opens and shorts—it can also pinpoint a range of wiring problems, including corrosion, bad crimps, cold solder joints, loose connectors, loose terminals, and contamination.
CTP eliminates “False Box Removals”, in-flight problems, and mission aborts, as scheduled wire maintenance finds and repairs the problems before a failure occurs. Physical non-uniformity is the best indicator of a future functional failure. Physical wire degradation typically results in many intermittent, in-flight failures before it turns into a visible, hard functional failure. The implementation of CTP by aircraft maintainers has therefore improved mission readiness, safety of flight, and mission success.
UH-60M DAFCS Demo, Fort Campbell, KY
In late October, Eclypse will be present at a demonstration of the Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS) of the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, where the CTP methodology will be used to test the effects of increased stimulus on the system’s wiring. The test program developed will identify wires in which discrepancies are present, graphically displaying the results to identify anomalies.
Indonesian Air Force TPS Integration Trip (planned)
Eclypse International and Blue Aerospace are planning to travel in early October to integrate four separate Test Program Sets (TPSs) for the Indonesian Air Force. Eclypse engineers will run the tests, make modifications to the code based on initial results, and deliver the finalized test programs.
Eclypse International measures its success through the success of its customers. In the recent past, the company provided clients with a wide array of solutions to ensure system integrity, precise troubleshooting capabilities, and data collection, giving them an outstanding return on their investment:
Ellsworth Air Force Base
The maintainers in the back shop at Ellsworth Air Force Base began using the AWTS as part of a general streamlining process, dramatically reducing the time required to troubleshoot B-1 bomber aircraft; ops checks that previously took ten hours, for instance, were shortened to just ten minutes. The efficiency gains made possible by the AWTS increased the back shop’s bandwidth to inspect and repair aircraft, keeping them flying safely for U.S. airmen.
T-700 Engine Harness Test Program Set Demonstration, Huntsville, AL
In October 2016, Eclypse resolved wiring faults and helped to ensure the success of an aircraft engine demonstration at the Redstone Arsenal Aviation Flight Test Directorate facility in Huntsville, AL. The demonstration involved authentic testing of an installed engine, an engine harness on the bench used to demonstrate flex-testing capabilities, and an engine staged on a stand. The final configuration exhibited resistance anomalies in two wires using the program’s current limits; further discussion with a test pilot revealed that the engine had issues correlated to the wires indicated to be faulty by the test program. The maintainers were directed to replace a faulty harness and to repeat the test; the newly implemented wire harness did not exhibit any failures, showing clear improvement over the previous test.
MH-6M FADEC and MH-47G
The addition of Eclypse’s CTP methodology into current test programs has dramatically reduced the incidence of faults, lessening the occurrence of Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system events in the MH-6M special operations helicopter from 2-6 per month to fewer than one per year. CTP adoption was also proven to eliminate repeat tail numbers and “No Fault Found” (NFF) issues, greatly reducing the costs associated with identifying and replacing problematic areas.
Use of CTP showed similar results when extended to the MH-47G, a twin-engine, heavy-lift helicopter, eliminating a couple of “problem aircraft” incidents; it continues to be used today. After CTP identified potential wire anomalies, these “problem aircraft” have flown without any incidents.
For more than 25 years, Eclypse has built a reputation for its customer-first approach and flexibility in facing unique challenges. Eclypse staff have combined decades of experience developing and delivering projects from simple, off-the-shelf products to complete, fully integrated test program solutions. In addition to the hundreds of systems it has shipped to the field, Eclypse is known for providing exceptional service and support of its products. Through innovative design, a strong focus on quality, and a passion for surpassing expectations, Eclypse International is on the leading edge of technological advancements.
Eclypse has collaborated with NCMS on several projects, including Optimizing the Performance of the H-60 Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System and Joint Intermittence Testing. To learn more about the company and its offerings, visit its website at https://www.eclypse.org.