Project Name: NIFTY – a wireless sensor network for Non-Intrusive Flight Test Instrumentation (NIFTI)
In 2009 aadi Defence embarked on the development of a wireless system, as a replacement to wired systems currently used on Orange Aircraft, flight trials and stores release (in conjunction with cameras). The concept was to develop a wireless sensor system that functions as well as, if not better than the current wired system, could be easily and quickly installed and removed from the test aircraft without causing any damage or require any modifications to the aircraft.
The 1st Phase of the project received funding in 2014, with the proof-of-concept system to be demonstrated on an AOSG PC-9 in a flight trial program in October 2015.
Project Lead: AADI Defence
Project Partners: DSTO, Procept Pty Ltd
Objective: To develop a wireless sensor solution for the Aerospace Operational Support Group (AOSG) of the RAAF for flight trials and stores release work
Our Specialist Team:
Dr Daniel Ho
Dr Daniel Ho is aadi Defence resident technologist. He was responsible for the initial concept exploration with DSTG-Air Division, the RAAF’s Directorate General Technical Airworthiness (DGTA), and AOSG. Daniel was also responsible in identifying the technologies and the business partners needed to materialise the vision.
Warren Canning, apart from his expertise in business negotiations and technical engineering, is an aerobatic pilot and had worked closely with the RAAF and AOSG in previous projects. His insights as both a complex project manager and an experience pilot are invaluable to this project.
Dr. Bill Schofield
As a former director of DSTG-M, Bill has unique insights into the capabilities within DSTG and the interactions between DSTG and AOSG. Given the number of parties this project involves, Bill’s insights are invaluable in guiding the project team in navigating through the complex government structures, bureaucracy, and politics.
Dr Alan Baker
Dr. Baker is a world expert in adhesives, and is the team’s subject matter expert on this topic.
AirCDRE Noel Schmidt
AirCDRE Schmidt was the inaugural head of DGTA and remains an active member on the RAAF’s Airworthiness Review Board. He is the team’s subject matter expert on all things related to airworthiness, flight trials, stores release, and potential application of the system once developed.
Procept Pty Ltd:
A specialist in microelectronics and wireless communication technology firm. aadi Defence identified Procept as its engineering partner for this project because Procept has demonstrated
- A track record of developing smart low powered wireless communication devices
- A track record of developing smart technologies (thinking outside the box)
- A willingness to pursue the project as a partner rather than simply as a sub-contractor
- A deep chest of proprietary know-how and firmware, suitable for this project
- Ability to deliver on time and on budget
- Excellent communication skills
DSTG-Aerospace Division (AD) demonstrated the original Non-Intrusive Flight Test Instrumentation concept in 2008 and holds the know-how in the science and technique in producing an all-in-one sensor with inbuilt strain gauges. DSTG-AD is the science and technical arm within DoD (Department of Defence) that supports AOSG and ASE-SQN in their flight trials work, and is responsible for vetting the performance of the NIFTY system.
ASE-SQN is the squadron within AOSG that is responsible for the technical engineering and requirements of RAAF flight trials. They are the end users of the NIFTY system, in the sense that they will be responsible for the implementation of the system based on RAAF requirements. Aadi Defence works closely with ASE-SQN in determining the functional specification for the proof-of-concept as well as testing procedures.
AOSG is the group responsible for supporting RAAF capabilities. They also work closely with the USAF Seek-Eagle office (USAFSEO) which is responsible for USAF aircraft stores certification. This project is overseen by AOSG, with regular meetings help with all involved parties including the test pilot, USAFSEO representative, and the ground support crew.
Directorate General Joint Strike Fighter Acquisition and Sustainment
The seed funding for this project is provided by this Directorate, which has an interest in exploring if this capability can be advanced to the stage suitable for use on the JSF.
Timeline/ Key Milestones:
2009-2010: Development of initial concept and held preliminary discussions with Defence
2010-2011: Submitted proposal into the CTD office for funding. Submission made the finals but did not make the final cut for funding.
2011-2012: Hiatus, while aadi Defence searched for a suitable engineering development partner to bridge the technology gaps.
2012-2014: Working with Procept and DSTG to refine the technology; develop business case to present to RAAF
2014-2015: Delivery of Phase 1 of proof-of-concept
In 2014, aadi Defence and Procept formed the jointly owned company Defence Innovations to pursue the development of NIFTY
In Oct 2015, Defence Innovations shall be demonstrating a wireless system on a AOSG PC-9, capable of
- 10 sensors, each sampling >320 Hz of trip-axial acceleration
- Sensors IP67 rated, aerodynamically shaped, battery re-chargeable
- System functions from -30°C to +85°C
- Sensors mounted on external painted surfaces, installed and removed without damage to the paint
- Sensor endurance >2 hrs
- All data wirelessly transmitted to a gateway mounted underwing in a F-18 supersonic missile pod, stored onto a CF card in CH10 format
- Hibernation and Shutdown functions controlled remotely from the cockpit