Smart helicopter load sensor takes on the big jobs

HeliNav LoadMaster, the intelligent wireless helicopter load sensor has been upgraded with inclinometer and accelerometer capabilities so that it can be used with large underslung loads that will typically have be suspended from three loadpoints by three cables.

Mark Ingham of manufacturer Sensor Technology Ltd explains: “Heavy lift helicopters have a number of load points on their underside and it is usual to carry larger loads by using more than one of them, typically three. This spreads the weight of the load across the aircraft to avoid having a single point of high stress and to stabilise both load and helicopter in flight.

“With our original LoadMaster, pilots could measure the total weight of such a load, but not resolve it into the strain in each individual cable. But now, for engineering evaluation purposes, it is possible to monitor them separately in case the load is not being distributed evenly, or a dynamic force creates asymmetric stresses.”

The HeliNav-LoadMaster sensor is completely autonomous having its own display and computer mountable in the cockpit. This makes it independent of the host helicopter’s systems, while being wireless means it does not require additional certification of the electrical systems. It also means it can be swapped from one craft to another in seconds, allowing HeliNav-LoadMaster to be shared around a fleet of aircraft.

“Since we launched the original LoadMaster it has helped numerous commercial helicopter operators maximise the profitability of their flying hours,” says Mark. “The new inclinometer function will extend this advantage to the increasingly important market of heavy lift operations.”

LoadMaster can be used in conjunction with other electronic systems, such as navigation and tracking, to produce comprehensive operational performance. This will optimising customer billings and aid with maintenance scheduling.

The HeliNav LoadMaster sensor, which is available in ranges from 1.5 tonnes to 10 tonnes, communicates its information to the helicopter pilot via a wireless link working on an unlicensed international frequency to power a screen mounted in the cockpit. With both Windows and LabView software embedded in the unit, operation is not only simple; it is also so familiar to modern pilots that training is not needed.

“Put simply HeliNav-LoadMaster takes the guesswork out of commercial operations. You get an accurate record, against which you can charge exactly,” says Mark.