Researchers at Cranfield University are working on a three year project to optimise the maintenance of commercial aircraft by creating measures which accurately gauge the safe lifetime of starter-generators parts.

The project i-Bearing, will run until May 2018. it will focus on engine starter-generator bearings, a small but fundamental piece installed on aircraft engine, by developing indicators to evaluate how much wear the bearings have and when they will need to be replaced – a measure currently not available. Cranfield University will develop the data analysis and diagnostic algorithms which will enable understanding about the bearings’ lifetime.

The new indicators will lead to the development of a monitoring system that can be integrated into aircraft starter-generators to predict when bearings are likely to become less effective. This will enable airline operators to plan aircraft maintenance more efficiently, reduce unnecessary maintenance and increase aircraft safety.

Rui Sousa, from Active Space Technologies, involved in iBearing, said: "The iBearing project will contribute to improve laboratory capabilities, to expand the workforce, and to exploit new opportunities in aviation, namely in the development of eco-efficient fly-by-wire enabling technologies and smart sensors."

The project is a partnership between Cranfield University, German company Schaeffler Bearings, Active Space Technologies in Portugal, and Thales. It is funded by the EU Cleansky2, a public/private partnership between the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry focusing on reducing CO2 emissions and noise levels.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.