OCTOBER 15--National Instruments (NI; Austin, TX; www.ni.com) announced that the Australian military is saving two-thirds on measurement component costs using an NI-based virtual instrumentation system to test its entire fleet of Black Hawk helicopters. The system, which also slashed testing time from months to weeks, has proven so successful the Royal Australian Army, Air Force, and Navy soon will expand their use of NI LabVIEW software and PXI hardware to determine safe operation of other
types of helicopters.
The NI-based system, known as the Airborne Data Acquisition and Recording System
(ADARS), identifies safe landing procedures for its Black Hawk helicopters by measuring vital information such as rotor speed, air speed, aircraft position, and engine torque as pilots land in various weather and sea conditions. During test landings on-board amphibious troop transport ships, the system analyzes and logs flight data from the helicopter's navigation and avionics systems. Military officials then use these data to determine proper landing techniques that all Black Hawk helicopter pilots should follow. The test program has been so successful, the military plans to build additional ADARS units to determine landing procedures for its fleet of Sea King and Sea Hawk helicopters.
Because the PXI system is both compact and durable, it resides on-board a Black Hawk test helicopter. The test system is comprised of a PXI controller and chassis containing a multifunction data-acquisition module, an input/output module, an image-acquisition module, and a counter/timer module. Together, they acquire digital and analog signals from various on-board sensors, including strain gauges, RTDs, thermocouples, a linear position transducer, a GPS receiver, and as many as four cameras.