Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310). This special issue belongs to the section "Aeronautics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 December 2023) | Viewed by 24519

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
DIMEAS-Department of Mechanical and Aerospace, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Turin, Italy
Interests: prognostics and health management; actuation and control systems for aerospace applications; development of fluid power components
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Maintenance is a critical phase in the life cycle of aerospace systems, representing both a significant cost item and an important logistic challenge for fleet managers. For these reasons, recent years have seen an increasing interest in the application of novel emerging technologies to the aircraft maintenance field, with the aim of optimizing maintenance scheduling, reducing its cost, streamlining maintenance operations, achieving leaner logistic lines, and supporting the training of specialized operators. Examples on such subjects are the passage from preventive maintenance to condition-based maintenance (CBM) strategies, the implementation of the prognostic and health management technique to systems or components, and the application of augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) environments. 

This Special Issue aims at providing novel articles on theoretical studies, applied research activities, case studies, and lessons learned about emerging technologies in the maintenance of aircrafts, aerospace systems, and components. Such topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Data-driven or model-based prognostics and health management techniques for aerospace systems or components;
  • Fault diagnosis;
  • Implementation of condition-based maintenance strategies in the aerospace field;
  • AI and data-driven techniques to support maintenance;
  • VR/AR-assisted maintenance;
  • Visual recognition for aircraft maintenance;
  • Robotic solutions to improve or partially automate maintenance procedures and periodical inspections.

Dr. Andrea De Martin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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19 pages, 2570 KiB  
Article
Predicting the Remaining Useful Life of Light Aircraft Structural Parts: An Expert System Approach
by David Gerhardinger, Anita Domitrović, Karolina Krajček Nikolić and Darko Ivančević
Aerospace 2023, 10(11), 967; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10110967 - 17 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1164
Abstract
This paper introduces an expert system approach for predicting the remaining useful life (RUL) of light aircraft structural components by analyzing operational and maintenance records. The expert system consists of four modules: knowledge acquisition, knowledge base, inference, and explanation. The knowledge acquisition module [...] Read more.
This paper introduces an expert system approach for predicting the remaining useful life (RUL) of light aircraft structural components by analyzing operational and maintenance records. The expert system consists of four modules: knowledge acquisition, knowledge base, inference, and explanation. The knowledge acquisition module retrieves data from mandatory records, such as aircraft logbooks and mass and balance sheets. The knowledge base stores specific remaining useful lives (SRULs) for different load profiles that are determined using numerical strength analysis. The inference module utilizes the Palmgren-Miner rule to estimate the accumulated fatigue damage of the structural component based on the input data and the knowledge base. Lastly, the explanation module links the accumulated damage to the maintenance program and suggests the appropriate maintenance action. The Cessna 172R main landing gear leg is utilized as a case study, demonstrating the variance of RUL depending on the operating conditions. The objective of this approach is to enhance light aircraft maintenance decision making and advance operational safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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23 pages, 1840 KiB  
Article
Condition-Based Maintenance in Aviation: Challenges and Opportunities
by Wim J. C. Verhagen, Bruno F. Santos, Floris Freeman, Paul van Kessel, Dimitrios Zarouchas, Theodoros Loutas, Richard C. K. Yeun and Iryna Heiets
Aerospace 2023, 10(9), 762; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10090762 - 28 Aug 2023
Viewed by 8949
Abstract
Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) is a policy that uses information about the health condition of systems and structures to identify optimal maintenance interventions over time, increasing the efficiency of maintenance operations. Despite CBM being a well-established concept in academic research, the practical uptake in [...] Read more.
Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) is a policy that uses information about the health condition of systems and structures to identify optimal maintenance interventions over time, increasing the efficiency of maintenance operations. Despite CBM being a well-established concept in academic research, the practical uptake in aviation needs to catch up to expectations. This research aims to identify challenges, limitations, solution directions, and policy implications related to adopting CBM in aviation. We use a generalizable and holistic assessment framework to achieve this aim, following a process-oriented view of CBM development as an aircraft lifecycle management policy. Based on various inputs from industry and academia, we identified several major sets of challenges and suggested three primary solution categories. These address data quantity and quality, CBM implementation, and the integration of CBM with future technologies, highlighting future research and practice directions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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22 pages, 19188 KiB  
Article
Damage Segmentation on High-Resolution Coating Images Using a Novel Two-Stage Network Pipeline
by Kolja Hedrich, Lennart Hinz and Eduard Reithmeier
Aerospace 2023, 10(3), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10030245 - 02 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1298
Abstract
The automation of inspections in aircraft engines is an ever-increasing growing field of research. In particular, the inspection and quantification of coating damages in confined spaces, usually performed manually with handheld endoscopes, comprise tasks that are challenging to automate. In this study, 2D [...] Read more.
The automation of inspections in aircraft engines is an ever-increasing growing field of research. In particular, the inspection and quantification of coating damages in confined spaces, usually performed manually with handheld endoscopes, comprise tasks that are challenging to automate. In this study, 2D RGB video data provided by commercial instruments are further analyzed in the form of a segmentation of damage areas. For this purpose, large overview images, which are stitched from the video frames, showing the whole coating area are analyzed with convolutional neural networks (CNNs). However, these overview images need to be divided into smaller image patches to keep the CNN architecture at a functional and fixed size, which leads to a significantly reduced field of view (FOV) and therefore a loss of information and reduced network accuracy. A possible solution is a downsampling of the overview image to decrease the number of patches and increase this FOV for each patch. However, while an increased FOV with downsampling or a small FOV without resampling both exhibit a lack of information, these approaches incorporate partly different information and abstractions to be utilized complementary. Based on this hypothesis, we propose a two-stage segmentation pipeline, which processes image patches with different FOV and downsampling factors to increase the overall segmentation accuracy for large images. This includes a novel method to optimize the position of image patches, which leads to a further improvement in accuracy. After a validation of the described hypothesis, an evaluation and comparison of the proposed pipeline and methods against the single-network application is conducted in order to demonstrate the accuracy improvements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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14 pages, 4458 KiB  
Article
Development of Engine Maintenance Technology with Mixed Reality-Taking Pratt & Whitney JT9D as an Example
by Wen-Chung Wu and Cheng-Chiao Hung
Aerospace 2022, 9(12), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace9120777 - 01 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1886
Abstract
The engine is the heart of the aircraft and deeply affects performance, flight safety, and airline management, which makes it a critical component requiring maintenance. With the advancement of technology, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies have been [...] Read more.
The engine is the heart of the aircraft and deeply affects performance, flight safety, and airline management, which makes it a critical component requiring maintenance. With the advancement of technology, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies have been introduced one after another. To increase maintenance skill ability, it is important to train for aviation maintenance. Therefore, the engine maintenance mixed reality (EMMR) system was developed through mixed reality technology in this study. There are three different scenarios have been developed in the EMMR system for making engine maintenance easy. In the first scenario, an exploded diagram of the disassembled engine with the main components has been made and an animation of the fuel flow has been demonstrated to introduce the basic structure of the engine. In the second scenario, interactive buttons and animations have been used to simulate the removal of the engine from the wing of an airplane so that the users can understand the process of disassembling the engine. In the third scenario, hybrid reality has been implemented to interact with the virtual objects, so that users could simulate the disassembly and replacement of the engine fan blades and get familiar with the whole process. Students have been introduced to and have been familiarized with the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and a survey has been conducted before and after using the developed technology to understand if the currently developed EMMR could help students to understand the process of each engine maintenance in the general classroom and make the learning more efficient at the same time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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31 pages, 19378 KiB  
Article
Buckling Analysis of a Thin-Walled Structure Using Finite Element Method and Design of Experiments
by Mohamad Norfaieqwan Bin Kamarudin, Jaffar Syed Mohamed Ali, Abdul Aabid and Yasser E. Ibrahim
Aerospace 2022, 9(10), 541; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace9100541 - 23 Sep 2022
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5549
Abstract
In structural engineering, thin-walled structures play an important role in the design of the lightweight structural model. It carries different loading conditions when it exists in any model, and it is designed with thin plates or thin shells. Penetrating thin-walled structures with different [...] Read more.
In structural engineering, thin-walled structures play an important role in the design of the lightweight structural model. It carries different loading conditions when it exists in any model, and it is designed with thin plates or thin shells. Penetrating thin-walled structures with different kinds of holes can decrease their weight and facilitate repair and maintenance operations, such as those carried out for the wing of an airplane. In such applications, cutouts are often employed as part of the design of composite plates. Therefore, this paper attempted to design and analyse the thin-walled composite structure with a C-cross-section shape. To model and analyse the structures, a finite element method was utilized using the ABAQUS commercial tool, and the results of critical buckling load for different laminate types were obtained. Composite materials and structures have different parameters that can vary the results of analysis; therefore, to optimize the current mode a design of experiments method is used via MINITAB 20 and Design-Expert 13 tools. The selected parameters for this work were the opening ratio, spacing ratio, and shape of the hole for the output response as a critical buckling load was carried out. Based on the current results of simulation and optimization, it was found that the parameters of composite materials and structures will impact the output response, and the current study investigated the optimum parameters for the best possible outcome of the structural analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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Review

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55 pages, 6223 KiB  
Review
A Historical Survey of Corrective and Preventive Maintenance Models with Imperfect Inspections: Cases of Constant and Non-Constant Probabilities of Decision Making
by Vladimir Ulansky and Ahmed Raza
Aerospace 2024, 11(1), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11010092 - 18 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1655
Abstract
Maintenance strategies play a crucial role in ensuring the reliability and performance of complex systems. Imperfect inspections, characterized by the probabilities of false positives and false negatives, significantly impact the effectiveness of maintenance decisions. This survey explores maintenance models under imperfect inspections, characterized [...] Read more.
Maintenance strategies play a crucial role in ensuring the reliability and performance of complex systems. Imperfect inspections, characterized by the probabilities of false positives and false negatives, significantly impact the effectiveness of maintenance decisions. This survey explores maintenance models under imperfect inspections, characterized by constant and non-constant probabilities of false positives and false negatives. This study investigates various maintenance approaches, such as preventive and corrective maintenance, and evaluates their performance, considering the uncertainties introduced by imperfect inspections. By analyzing the existing literature and research findings, this survey provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with maintenance decision making in the presence of inspection imperfections. The comparison between maintenance models with constant and non-constant probabilities of false positives and false negatives sheds light on the dynamic nature of these models, enabling a deeper understanding of their real-world applicability and effectiveness. This comprehensive overview is a valuable resource for researchers, practitioners, and decision makers involved in maintenance planning and optimization in diverse industrial sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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Other

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11 pages, 3112 KiB  
Technical Note
Comparative Vacuum Monitoring Solutions to Advance U.S. Air Force KC-46A Condition-Based Maintenance Plus
by Kyle Blond, Thomas O’Brien, Nathaniel Thompson, David Piotrowski and Anne Clark
Aerospace 2023, 10(7), 587; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10070587 - 27 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2046
Abstract
The KC-46A Pegasus, a Boeing 767 (B767) commercial derivative aircraft (CDA), is a key part of the United States Air Force’s (USAF) efforts to modernize their aging tanker fleet. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the USAF have heavily emphasized the desire and [...] Read more.
The KC-46A Pegasus, a Boeing 767 (B767) commercial derivative aircraft (CDA), is a key part of the United States Air Force’s (USAF) efforts to modernize their aging tanker fleet. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the USAF have heavily emphasized the desire and need for Condition-Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) to improve aircraft maintenance programs such as the KC-46A. This study reviews existing CBM+ practices on B767 and related aircraft fleets at Delta Air Lines to identify initial steps for implementing CBM+ in the KC-46 maintenance program. Specifically, comparative vacuum monitoring (CVM) sensors are proposed for KC-46A structural health monitoring (SHM) as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified CBM+ technology. As demonstrated at Delta Air Lines Technical Operations (Delta TechOps), CVM sensors satisfy the technological, procedural, financial, and regulatory requirements to advance KC-46A SHM and serve as a template for future CBM+ initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Aerospace Maintenance)
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