Australia's DST employs new techniques to improve safety of MRH90 helicopters
The Australian Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group is employing forensic engineering techniques and complex computational fluid analyses of airflow to ensure safer MRH90 aircraft operations.
Forensic engineers at DST are working to make the MRH90 safer after a series of serious incidents following its introduction.
The DST staff could provide urgent and timely advice on the cause of these incidents so that appropriate measures can be implemented.
DST conducts complex computational analysis through simulations to help the Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU) undertake First-of-Class Flight Trials (FOCFT) to determine the limits at which new Navy aircraft can operate at sea.
The FOCFT process can identify conditions in which the ship, aircraft or equipment need to be modified to ensure safe flying activities.
DST defence researcher Robert Toffoletto said: “DST works very closely with AMAFTU to do a lot of the science behind helping them make the process of conducting FOCFT safer and more efficient.
“We aim to establish guidelines for the pilots on what to look out for in certain situations when flying the aircraft at sea.”
During a recent incident, an Australian MRH90 Navy helicopter was onboard the HMAS Canberra when excessive wind during the helicopter shutdown process caused its blades to act erratically, leading to unfavourable blade orientation.
A forensic investigation was conducted by Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Airbus Group Australia Pacific and DST, which helped return the MRH90 to service immediately and enable its use in the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC.
A team led by Toffoletto is currently working on multi-aircraft operations onboard the HMAS Canberra, which currently has six helicopter landing spots.
In collaboration with original equipment manufacturers such as Airbus Group and Boeing, DST is helping to minimise safety incidents and maximise the safety of helicopter operations at sea.
Image: The MRH90 is one of the most advanced tactical troop transport helicopters of the 21st Century. Photo: © Commonwealth of Australia.