ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) Sensors installed directly inside a helicopter can detect issues before they become a major problem. One company has had the "foresight" to save technicians time and money with its product that's Made in Vermont.
This little box can do a whole lot of good. It's called the Foresight MX, a monitoring system that through vibration, alerts technicians when maintenance is going to be needed in the rotor system of a helicopter, before the actual problem occurs.
"The helicopters that don't have these systems on them, they just don't have that much margin for error as systems that do," said Jed Kalkstein with Green Power Monitoring Systems, (GPMS) the company that makes the device.
The Foresight MX, which ranges in price but can cost around $90,000, is permanently installed on the helicopter and can detect an issue in just one flight.
"The red icon -- that's an engine issue that this system has identified," Kalkstein said.
Other monitoring systems have to be set up separately and the chopper needs to be flown three or four times before a diagnosis is made.
"This system, I think, is going to allow facilities and maintenance professionals to predict problems before they occur. Therefore, maybe ordering parts before it has to be grounded, saving time and money," said Stephen Beams,
GPMS was started in 2013 by engineers Eric Bechhoefer and Jack Taylor. The design and engineering firm doesn't do the actual manufacturing. That's taken care of at Microwire Transmission systems in Essex.
"Microwire has been great. They helped us to take a process that hadn't been well defined yet, and to really define it," Kalkstein said.
The Foresight MX is currently being used in the Bell 407 Helicopter at Mansfield Heliflight in Milton. Mansfield Heliflight has been instrumental in helping GPMS design the installation for the Bell 407.
"We would install one of our smart sensors here," Kalkstein said."When we're designing our systems, we really need to be on a helicopter so we can exactly see where cable runs are going to go, where hardware is going to be installed. So these guys have been wonderful in both providing us access and providing us their thoughts on where some of this equipment should go."
The Foresight MX has been installed on four helicopters in North Carolina. Based on the success there, GPMS hopes others will be alerted to the time and money that can be saved thanks to this system.