A Case Study on the Detection and Prognosis of Internal Leakages in Electro-Hydraulic Flight Control Actuators
Electro-hydraulic servo-actuators (EHSAs) are currently considered the state-of-the art solution for the control of the primary flight control systems of civil and military aircraft. Combining the expected service life of a commercial aircraft with the fact that electro-hydraulic technology is employed in the vast majority of currently in-service aircraft and is planned to be used on future platforms as well, the development of an effective Prognostic and Health Management (PHM) system could
... vide significant advantages to fleet operators and aircraft maintenance, such as the reduction of unplanned flight disruptions and increased availability of the aircraft. The occurrence of excessive internal leakage within the EHSAs is one of the most common causes of return from the field of flight control actuators, making this failure mode a priority in the definition of any dedicated PHM routine. This paper presents a case study on the design of a prognostic system for this degradation mode, in the context of a wider effort toward the definition of a prognostic framework suitable to work on in-flight data. The study is performed by means of a high-fidelity simulation model supported by experimental activities. Results of both the simulation and the experimental work are used to select a suitable feature, then implemented within the prognostic framework based on particle filtering. The algorithm is at first theoretically discussed, and then tested against several degradation patterns. Performances are evaluated through state-of-the-art metrics, showing promising results and providing the basis towards future applications on real in-flight data.