A new sensor designed to alert aircraft maintenance personnel to a wiring clamp failure is being developed at the University of Dayton Research Institute in Ohio, reports The Engineer. The new technology uses a RFID tag that transmits to a hand held reader if a clamp has been compromised, thus putting the aircraft at risk.
A typical commercial aircraft has miles of wiring secured in bundles by hundreds of thousands of clamps, said Bob Kauffman, a research chemist at the university and inventor of the tag. The clamps keep wires from rubbing, which could lead to a break in the insulation. Even worse, it could cause sparking, especially dangerous if it is in the presence of fuel.
Finding broken clamps can be tedious because of the volume found within an aircraft, and also because they are in locations not easily accessible to maintenance personnel. The newly designed tag allows maintenance personnel to quickly pass a hand held RFID reader through the body of an airplane to listen for broken clamps.
The Status and Motion Activated Radiofrequency Tag (SMART) clamps could be used throughout a plane or installed only in “hot spots,” such as near hydraulic lines, fuel tanks or anywhere else a loose wire could jeopardize the aircraft.
Kauffman and senior research physicist Doug Wolf created the SMART sensor under FAA funding for use in ‘smart clamps’ to hold aircraft wiring in place.
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