Although the 5 Hercules operated by the No.40 Squadron were in their 40’s in 2005, they were nowhere ready for the scrap heap. However, to ensure they continued to fly safely right up to retirement, it was important to monitor them closely for signs of potential failure.
Developed by DTA in collaboration with Safe Air Limited, the Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering and No.40 Squadron, a multi-component aircraft usage monitoring system was fitted to the Hercules where it interfaced with the aircraft systems to monitor airspeed, altitude, vertical acceleration and bending stresses of the main wing spars. Stored on a digital data recorder, the information was downloaded after each landing, allowing the DTA to build accurate mission profiles over a wide range of operating conditions.
This information provided RNZAF engineers better insight into how the fleet is used and, more importantly, how long the fleet can be flown before fatigue becomes a significant concern.
Thanks to the skilled work of the DTA and RNZAF personnel, the venerable Hercules will see out its days with its untarnished record of safety and operational excellence intact.