Bell Helicopter Textron [TXT] and the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) have signed an agreement to develop and mature state-of-the- art condition based maintenance (CBM) technologies.
Bell's winning proposal for this three-year program includes risk sharing partners Honeywell [HON] and Goodrich Corporation [GR], and a variety of internationally recognized universities, small businesses, and consultants.
The purpose of this 50/50 cost sharing agreement is to develop and demonstrate an integrated set of diagnostic, prognostic and system health assessment technologies to support Army operations support and sustainment technology (OSST) objectives and enable transition to a CBM-based philosophy.
"Bell understands Army aviation's desire to move towards a predictive and proactive maintenance environment and is committed to getting these technologies to the Warfighter as quickly as possible," Mike Blake, Bell executive vice president of Customer Solutions, said. "The infusion of these technologies will reduce the cost of operation while making the aircraft safer for our soldiers."
Currently, aviation maintenance is generally performed on time schedules based on operating hours or a set number of days. The maintenance may or may not be necessary, which can result in unnecessary replacement of parts and expenditure of man-hours. The overarching goal of CBM is to set in place maintenance processes and capabilities that improve operational availability and reduce the overall maintenance burden.
One of the underlying objectives of Technology Investment Agreements (TIAs) is to harness emerging, commercially-available technologies and transition them on to DoD weapons systems in a rapid fashion.
"It is a privilege for Bell to be partnered with AATD on this program," Elaine Vaught, Bell senior vice president of Engineering, said. "Our objective is to work with AATD to develop robust technologies that will not only be embedded in future aircraft designs, but will also be retrofittable to the Army's fielded fleet wherever possible."