Integrating Sensors and Predictive Maintenance Systems with Performance Support Technology to Achieve Increased CH-53E Readiness and Reliability – Phase I & II

NCMS Project #: 140418

Problem: According to an October 2005 U.S. Government Accountability Office report (GAO-06-141), CH-53E Helicopter readiness rates are declining due to the aircraft’s increasing age and high operational tempo.  The CH-53 platform, which was first introduced into service in 1966, is experiencing “higher-than-expected usage rates” in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the GAO.  This high operational tempo is exacerbating age-related problems on the CH-53E, including structural fatigue and wear and tear of the rotors.  This project will integrate CH-53E Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System (IMDS) technology with Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) to provide CH-53E helicopter maintenance technicians with a seamless, end-to-end maintenance prognostic, diagnostic, and repair suite that will measurably increase the readiness and availability levels of the aircraft.

This project is a technology demonstration that will provide the joint Navy/Marine Corps CH-53E community and NCMS with an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows performance support software to communicate and exchange data with the existing Goodrich “Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System.”

Benefit: The EPSS will also allow maintenance technicians to manually input additional equipment monitoring data or notes.  The EPSS will enable maintenance personnel to submit continuous process improvement suggestions to Maintenance Control for subsequent review and implementation fleetwide.

The resulting seamless, end-to-end prognostic, diagnostic, and repair suite will reduce overall CH-53E downtime and turnaround time, facilitate lean maintenance practices (by eliminating wasted time and effort), and reduce the number of “no evidence of failure” components turned in to Inter­mediate Maintenance activity as well as depots for repair, all of which should improve CH-53E readiness and availability rates while also reducing maintenance-related expenditures.  This project is significant and unprecedented in that it will be the first time that sensors, IMDS, and EPSS technology have been integrated and demonstrated together in support of military aircraft maintenance.

Solution/Approach: Rugged, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) mobile computers designed for use in Organizational Level maintenance environments; brand, model, and quantity to be determined at the site survey; number and type of devices must be sufficient for use by personnel from the HMT-302 squadron located at Marine Corps Air Station New River. Hardware will include handheld devices, servers, and associated network cables and peripherals.

MaintenanceMax® S1000D and Shareable Content Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant Electronic Performance Support System software and accompanying software license for the Marine Corps’ CH-53E community.

Digital data repository containing the technical content designated for this project, including new and existing training clips, for the CH-53E.

A non-proprietary, open architecture Application Programming Interface (API) that allows Electronic Performance Support Systems such as MaintenanceMax® by REI Systems to communicate and exchange data with the existing Goodrich IMDS.

Engineering analysis to determine the scope and parameters of the API.

Training:  Designated HMT-302 personnel will receive one standard 8-hour day of training on the MaintenanceMax® system and the PSS/IMDS API.  The contractor will provide students with a technical manual or software guide for reference purposes.

Impact on Warfighter: Improved readiness of the helicopter fleet.

DOD Participation:

  • HMT 302 Marine Corps Air Station, New River, NC
  • Fleet Support Team Lead Engineer, Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East

Industry Participation:

  • REI Systems
  • Goodrich
  • NCMS

Final Report