Yes, the following examples demonstrate how the Vision 1000 and Appareo FDM software suite have been utilized for maintenance, to identify risk and how it assisted in an accident investigation.
An Appareo Vision 1000 customer was returning its Bell 206 helicopter back to service after recently replacing the engine. After takeoff, the crew saw a large torque fluctuation and immediately landed the helicopter at the airport. Had they not equipped the cockpit with a Vision 1000, they would have relied on the air crew’s recollection of how much over-torque was experienced and for how long. Without precise information, this customer would have needed to complete costly and invasive inspections, resulting in extended down time for this aircraft and possibly incurring additional overhaul expenses. However, with the Vision 1000 installed, they were able to pull the SD card and review the imaging so they could see the whole instrument panel. By zooming in on the torque gauge, they saw the exact engine torque percentage, being able to accurately measure the severity and duration of the over-torque. What’s more, they saw the surrounding instruments and noticed they were giving conflicting information to what the torque gauge was providing. This information identified that their issue was actually a faulty torque gauge. They replaced the gauge and returned the aircraft to service that same day; the information from the cockpit imaging resulted in significant cost savings for both maintenance and operations.
While running its monthly flight data reports using the FDM software, a customer identified a dramatic increase in “Excessive Pitch Up Landing” events. This event describes when an aircraft has a high pitch attitude when coming in for a landing—an attitude that could result in a tail strike and is often indicative of “coming in hot.” After investigating using the FDM data and its corresponding dispatch records, the customer was able to identify that almost all incidents of this event occurred when a single pilot was flying. The pilot was new to the company but very experienced; when the Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) manager talked with him and showed him the data, the pilot didn’t see any issues with this type of landing technique. A conversation ensued discussing the company’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the risk associated with coming in for a landing in this manner. After a short training flight, the pilot was comfortable with the new technique and began landing this way. The following month’s flight data reports showed a dramatic reduction in this event from the prior month. Had this maneuver not been identified by the FDM manager, this could have resulted in a tail strike. The pilot didn’t think he was doing anything wrong because he had always flown this way. There were no punitive actions taken, simply a conversation to make the pilot aware of what the FDM manager was seeing and how it could be addressed.
During a Search and Rescue (SAR) mission near Talkeeta, Alaska, a pilot and two passengers died when their helicopter crashed. Due to a post-crash fire, the majority of the fuselage was consumed. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) reviewed weather reports and other information as part of their investigation, but its preliminary report gave few clues regarding the cause. Fortunately, the Airbus Helicopters AS350 was equipped with a Vision 1000, which was recovered from the accident site and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for data extraction as part of the accident investigation. The NTSB was able to identify the cause of the accident with the aid of the information pulled from the Vision 1000. Read more in the news articles below: