Integrated Aircraft Sensor Network for Real Time Leak Detection

Period of Performance: 09/30/2015 - 09/30/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT:Aircraft damage resulting from environmental exposure and fluid leaks accounts for a major portion of the costs associated with aircraft repairs and can lead to reduced availability and higher maintenance man hours. The ability to identify contaminant exposure within airframes and inform maintenance personnel of leaks, corrosive environments, and chemical contamination in difficult to access areas will allow for enhanced condition based maintenance to reduce sustainment costs and increase aircraft availability. In order to provide the Air Force with increased visibility into airframe contamination, Luna proposes to develop and deploy a wireless network of intelligent sensors for real time characterization of environmental exposure coupled with next generation aircraft maintenance tracking tools for an end-to-end solution. The system will provide actionable information to aircraft maintainers by combining Lunas mature, ultra-low power, wireless sensing platform with the ICARR-3D point of maintenance corrosion management tool pioneered by development partner Mercer Engineering Research Center. The Phase II effort will focus on finalizing system design, validating system performance, and performing safety-of-flight qualification testing. A technology integration plan will be finalized during the Phase II effort, and the program will culminate in a leak and contaminant detection system suitable for aircraft installation and flight testing.BENEFIT:Corrosion and contaminant related damage costs the military and commercial aircraft operators billions of dollars each year in associated inspection and maintenance. The system developed under this effort will allow maintainers to locate contamination issues within an airframe in a timely manner and focus their efforts on correcting these conditions, rather than identifying leaks and more extensive damage at scheduled inspection intervals. By identifying contamination when it occurs, labor and costs to remediate the contamination and effect repairs will be reduced and aircraft availability will increase. Furthermore, a system that identifies the level, location, and type of contamination will allow maintainers to identify faults associated with leaks, broken seals, and other component failures that degrade aircraft safety and performance. The benefits gained by both military and commercial aircraft operators will allow for increased asset availability and reliability with minimal upfront installation investments.