AgustaWestland is accessing the Internet and the cloud to support the latest addition to its product line.
Internet-based tools for flight planning and manipulation of health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) data will be launched when the new AW189 intermediate-heavy helicopter begins operations early next year.
The company is awaiting final certification of the aircraft before first deliveries to the Bristow Group, an offshore oil and gas operator, can begin. As part of the type's introduction, AgustaWestland is launching Internet-based services called SkyFlight and Heliwise, which aim to streamline the aircraft's performance and enhance functionality from remote locations.
SkyFlight is an online flight planning system designed to allow operators to configure the aircraft while on the ground. Ground operations personnel or the pilots will be able to load the various flight parameters into the plan including weight and navigation waypoints, taking note of the weather and Notams, as well as comparing potential landing sites with satellite images from Google Maps. The online service then turns the combined flight profile produced into a transferrable file, which can be uploaded either by Wi-Fi or USB stick and translated by the aircraft's avionics system into the flight profile for the crew to follow.
Heliwise is an extension of software produced for use on the AW139, but by moving the process onto the Internet cloud, HUMS data does not have to be collected at the home base after each flight. Currently, operators can perform data downloads after each sortie or at the end of a day's flying. Now, with Heliwise, operators can—if necessary—carry out their data downloads even at remote locations and confirm whether the aircraft is fit for operations.
The AW189 is expected to generate around 20 Mb of data during a three-hour mission, although AgustaWestland is working to compress that data to make it easier to upload to the system. Once uploaded, the data from the aircraft are examined and then displayed in a graphical interface with a traffic light system pointing to different components on a diagram of the aircraft. Components displaying a green light are healthy and functioning normally, while those displaying amber or red require the attention of engineers. The HUMS gathers results from around 40 sensors across the aircraft.
“Heliwise uses the same graphics as we use in all the technical publications, which will aid familiarity,” said Davide Martini, helicopters support systems manager at AgustaWestland.