The BLADESENSE project aims to revolutionise health monitoring for rotorcraft by investigating the aeroelastic behaviour of rotor blades and developing state-of-the-art fibre optic sensors.

At a glance

  • DatesJuly 2015 - July 2018
  • Sponsor

    Project’s industrial partners and Innovate UK via the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

  • Funded£2 million
  • PartnersAirbus Helicopters UK, BHR Group and Helitune

This is the first time we have been directly involved in helicopter flight testing and also the first ever research project undertaken by Airbus Helicopters UK.

Current maintenance processes are extremely labour intensive, costly and involve regular checks of a helicopter’s rotor blades to help identify whether there are any potential problems.

The BLADESENSE project aims to mount fibre optic sensors along the length of each blade to determine their ‘health’ and identify early on whether there are any changes to the way in which they are behaving. Any changes would trigger the flight control systems to adapt and send an alert to the maintenance team suggesting that further checks are necessary.

Researcher with helicopter blade
BLADESENSE: Working with Airbus Helicopters UK to identify helicopter blade behaviour during flight

We have made considerable progress since the project started in July 2015. We have received four helicopter rotor blades for structural and instrument testing and the first of two flight test phases is planned for summer 2016.

As well as several of our centres working collaboratively, Simone Weber from Airbus Helicopters UK is also embedded on campus.

Our work was showcased at the Farnborough International Airshow in July, along with the AWI project.