Frank Grooteman reports on the results achieved during the project: “ALGesMo achieved results beyond the expectations of the project team. The system developed does not only measure the vertical loads on the landing gears, like the previously fielded systems. It measures the loads along all three axis and the braking torque about the wheel axles of the main landing gear. It therefore allows more benefits that previous systems, beyond the weight and balance measurement, by detecting overloads and providing real-time brake control”.
Thanks to the accurate load monitoring, design and weight optimisation of the landing gear can be proposed; next to this, an on-condition maintenance schedule, based on current health monitoring data, could be implemented, reducing down-time of the aircraft and improving its availability for the airline.
Embedding of sensors in composite materials exposed to high temperature conditions was also a challenge, as such environment can cause non-uniform mechanical strain on the optical fibre during the curing process. A suitable combination of epoxy and fibres for the composite had been identified by Meggitt together with process parameters which eliminate the problem.
Other beyond-state-of-the-art advancements have been achieved in the avionics needed for recording the measurements. A fully integrated avionic unit containing the optical interrogator, based on the latest optical chip technology, together with processing and communication electronics, has been developed by Meggitt and Technobis (PhotonFirst) and was named Fibre Optic Processing Unit (FOPU), allowing the system to have a small and robust interrogator, and novel product. The connector between FOPU and its rack were also more challenging than on existing systems, given the need to transfer optical signals, which are more sensitive to perturbations and power loss, especially in challenging environments with varying temperatures and vibrations. A solution, that went beyond the previous state of the art, has been developed thanks to a fruitful collaboration with a connector supplier, which led to the development of a new reliable and robust connection for this type of environment.
The results achieved in the project are seen as promising by Airbus, who seeks to incorporate the developed system in a production system to be fitted on a future Airbus aircraft.
For further information on the project, you can consult Algesmo or contact Frank Grooteman.