We are applying diagnostics and prognostics to identify the safe lifetime of engine starter/generator bearings, in an effort to increase the safety of aircraft and reduce maintenance costs.
  • DatesMarch 2016 - May 2018
  • SponsorClean Sky 2 European research programme
  • Funded£420,000 (£167,000 for Cranfield)
  • PartnersThales Avionics, Schaeffler Bearings, Active Space Technologies, Barden Bearings

I-Bearing aims at the real-time health prediction of aircraft engine starter/generator bearings.

Starters/generators are a key component of aircraft engines and operate under exacting conditions, including extreme temperatures, pressures and constant vibration. Bearings are a fundamental part of these elements. Currently, bearing wear is primarily prevented by regular preventive maintenance.

The application of diagnostic and prognostic tools will provide an estimate of a safe lifetime for a bearing as well as accurate and timely wear diagnosis. This will enable operators to plan maintenance more effectively, and will lead to higher availability of starter-generators.

Our challenges include creating monitoring indicators which will produce reliable estimations of the condition of the bearings and ensure accurate diagnosis and prognosis of their state; and maintaining a rigorous approach to the mathematics and data structures.

This project is a collaboration with Active Space Technologies, Schaeffler, Barden and Thales.

Impact and findings

The bearing technical specification has been agreed and sensor choice defined. The next steps will be to develop appropriate system architectures, the development of specific algorithms for data analysis, diagnosis and the estimation of remaining useful life. In the longer term, a prototype will be constructed and tested at world-leading specialised facilities at Schaeffler, Germany. (August 2016)