Smart Sensors for Aircraft Corrosion Monitoring

Fritz Friedersdorf, Ph.D.
Director Intelligent Systems Group

This month, we are pleased to present our most current, in-service test results and development progress from our embedded, wireless health monitoring system, the Luna Sensor Suite (LS2). We are continuing to test and demonstrate units, developed under two Navy Phase II SBIR contracts (N68335-09-C-0107 and N68335-09-C-0099), with the goal of installing this platform on existing aircraft structures to measure corrosion processes and environmental parameters.  Ultimately, this may lead to improved asset tracking and fleet management resulting in increased aircraft availability and reduced time spent on unnecessary aircraft inspections. The units contain a variety of atmospheric and corrosivity sensors, all of which contribute to embedded diagnostic algorithms to predict corrosion damage.

The working unit was installed in the spare tire wheel well of the trunk of a coworker’s car for our first in-service testing. Data was collected at regular intervals for approximately a month and a half, and the LS2 system operated as expected. Following this field test and as a result of the Navy contract deliverables, two units, an RS-485 and a wireless unit, were installed on a Huey UH-1N rotorcraft at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The NAVAIR article about the install and project development can be found here:  This was a great step for us to collect flight data from these units. The on-aircraft data was in agreement with the local weather reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The corrosivity and chloride detection sensors indicate the strong dependence of corrosion and wetness on ambient humidity. 

More information on our technology and embedded classification algorithm is provided in our publications and presentations entitled, “Deployment of a Wireless Corrosion Monitoring System for Aircraft Applications,” and “Improved Asset Management through Corrosion Health Monitoring” which were presented at the IEEE Aerospace Conference, and the NACE International Corrosion 2013 conference on March 16.

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