Curtiss-Wright and Ultra Electronics deliver lightweight crash recorder, HUMS for helicopters

Feb. 16, 2016
SINGAPORE, 16 Feb. 2016. Engineers in Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions’ Avionics & Electronics business unit, in collaboration with Ultra Electronics Flightline Systems, have developed a compact, lightweight, ED-112A-compliant cockpit voice and flight data recorder (FDR) with integral health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) capability designed for rotorcraft platforms.

SINGAPORE, 16 Feb. 2016. Engineers in Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions’ Avionics & Electronics business unit, in collaboration with Ultra Electronics Flightline Systems, have developed a compact, lightweight, ED-112A-compliant cockpit voice and flight data recorder (FDR) with integral health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) capability designed for rotorcraft platforms.

The new Fortress HUMS combines flight data recording and HUMS capabilities in a single-box solution weighing a fraction of alternative systems, reducing overall weight of a typical installation from 70 pounds to 13 pounds (32 kilograms to 6 kg) versus currently available alternatives, officials say.

Fortress HUMS can be quickly and easily retrofitted onto a helicopter to provide a size, weight, and power (SWaP)-optimized, single-box solution for mandatory flight recording combined with a HUMS for maintenance, safety, fleet management, and supply chain interface.

Its serial communications network of intelligent sensors, connected via a single cable routed throughout the aircraft, enables rapid integration and reduces both system complexity and the time the aircraft needs to be grounded for installation.

Fortress HUMS is well suited to helicopter applications where operators seek to extend aircraft operational life and implement predictive maintenance programs. It can be deployed on both existing aircraft and new builds, as a combined HUMS and recorder system for new aircraft construction or as an upgrade path for customers who implement an initial Fortress Recorder-only installation.

"We are very excited to collaborate with Ultra Electronics Flightline Systems to deliver the unprecedented size and weight reduction provided by the Fortress HUMS recorder to the rotorcraft market,” says Lynn Bamford, senior vice president and general manager, Defense Solutions division. “Fortress HUMS significantly reduces the time and cost of aircraft installation and through-life operational costs thanks to its network-based approach and extremely low installed system weight.”

"Ultra Electronics Flightline Systems is excited to be teamed with Curtiss-Wright to bring this next-generation and game-changing technology to market,” explains Marc Brodeur, vice president, sales & marketing, Ultra Electronics Flightline Systems. “The Fortress HUMS will provide the end user with a significant fleet management capability that enables them to reduce operational costs by making better decisions about maintenance analysis, safety, training, and interface to the supply system. This system will provide transformational ability to the customer from crew chief to design engineer."

Fortress HUMS is a non-invasive, fault-tolerant, and compact solution that combines Curtiss-Wright’s next-generation Fortress crash recorder with the integrated Health and Usage Monitoring System developed by Ultra Electronics. The resultant product offers full crash recorder capability coupled with a powerful yet lightweight and affordable prognostic and diagnostic health monitoring system. Fortress HUMS algorithms calculate the remaining useful life of components, enabling significant maintenance cost savings, and increasing aircraft availability by reducing or extending maintenance beyond conservative periodic routines.

Fortress HUMS has a scalable architecture that can accommodate up to 60 smart sensor channels (e.g., accelerometers, tachometers, communications interfaces, and auxiliary data acquisition modules). The distributed sensor network acquires all data parameters required for both HUMS and FDR functions, including vibration data for mechanical diagnostics, engine monitoring, and airframe monitoring; platform dynamics for rotor track and balance; analog and digital signals for HUMS usage monitoring, exceedance monitoring and regime recognition; and ARINC 429, analog, and digital signals for flight data recording.

Fortress HUMS can operate with the cockpit area microphone, HD color camera, recorder independent power supply, and ground replay software to provide a complete cockpit voice, video, and flight data recording capability. Fortress HUMS is easy to reconfigure because sensors can be repurposed, added or removed, and then reprogrammed without the need to remove hardware from the aircraft.

Curtiss-Wright manufactures the Fortress HUMS data recorder system at its facility located in Christchurch, England, which is supported by the company’s facility in Dublin, Ireland.

Ultra Electronics Group manages a portfolio of specialist capabilities, generating highly differentiated solutions and products in the defense & aerospace, security & cyber, transport, and energy markets, by applying electronic and software technologies in demanding and critical environments to meet customer needs.

Curtiss-Wright Corp. delivers highly engineered, critical function products and services to the commercial, industrial, defense, and energy markets. Building on the heritage of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright has a long tradition of providing reliable solutions through trusted customer relationships. The company employs approximately 9,000 people worldwide.

You might also like:

  • Avionics
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC)
  • Satellite and Space
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
  • Subscribe today to receive all the latest aerospace technology and engineering news, delivered directly to your e-mail inbox twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Sign upfor your free subscription to the Intelligent Inbox e-newsletter at

    Connect with Intelligent Aerospace on social media: Twitter (@IntelligentAero), LinkedIn,Google+, and Instagram.

    Intelligent Aerospace, Global Aerospace Technology Network

    Intelligent Aerospace, the global aerospace technology network, reports on the latest tools, technologies, and trends of vital importance to aerospace professionals involved in air traffic control, airport operations, satellites and space, and commercial and military avionics on fixed-wing, rotor-wing, and unmanned aircraft throughout the world.

    Voice your opinion!

    To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Military Aerospace, create an account today!