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Physics Based Methods Group Successfully Demonstrates Chafing Fault-Detection Technology on C-17 Jet Engine
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Physics Based Methods Group Successfully Demonstrates Chafing Fault-Detection Technology on C-17 Jet Engine

Electronic chafing fault-detection technology developed by members of the Physics Based Methods Group was successfully demonstrated on a cable connected to the Electronic Engine Controller (EEC) of a live C-17 engine while operating under a variety of test conditions. The technology was able to detect and locate a 3x6mm chafe to the shield of a standard aircraft-grade cable from a 4m distance. This result strongly establishes the viability of precursor wire fault detection in live operational environments. Testing was conducted at Dryden Flight Research Center on July 26, 2013.

BACKGROUND: The Electrical Wiring and Interconnect System (EWIS) in any vehicle is a critical, and sometimes overlooked, electronic subsystem where relatively minor issues can grow and eventually lead to serious safety problems, such as smoke, fire, and loss of critical system functionality. While technology for detecting hard faults (i.e., opens, shorts, and arcing) is available, their detection only enables mitigation after a serious electrical issue occurs, rather than preventing it from occurring in the first place. This research seeks to help prevent the onset of serious wiring system failures through the development of advanced physics-based models and algorithms for detecting common precursor issues like chafing.

The C-17 test was part of the Vehicle Systems Safety Technologies (VSST) project’s Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) test program, which focuses on maturing engine-health management technologies. VIPR has a growing list of partners, including inter-agency NASA partners (Dryden Flight Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center), the Air Force, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing, United Technologies Research Center, Makel Engineering, Auburn University, and Kansas State University.

For more information on physics-based methods for wire fault detection and the Physics Based Methods Group, see the group website:

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research program, Vehicle Systems Safety Technologies project

TEAM: David Nishikawa, Stefan Schuet, Dogan Timucin, and Kevin Wheeler

Contact: Stefan Schuet

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