Micro-manufactured Rogowski coils for fault detection of aircraft electrical wiring and interconnect systems (EWIS)
moffat, Brian G.
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Aircraft wiring failures have increased over the last few years resulting in arc faults and high-energy flashover on the wiring bundle, which can propagate down through aircraft Electrical Wiring and Interconnect Systems (EWIS). It is considered cost prohibitive to completely rewire a plane in terms of man hours and operational time lost to do this, and most faults are only detectable whilst the aircraft is in flight. Temperature, humidity and vibration all accelerate ageing and failure effects on EWIS. This research investigates methods of in-situ non-invasive testing of aircraft wiring during fight. Failure Mode Effects and Analysis (FMEA) was performed on legacy aircraft EWIS using data obtained from RAF Brize Norton. Micro-Electro-mechanical- Systems (MEMS) were evaluated for use in a wire monitoring system that measures the environmental parameters responsible for ageing and failure of EWIS. Such MEMS can be developed into a Health and Usage Monitoring MicroSystem (HUMMS) by incorporating advanced signal processing and prognostic software. Current and humidity sensors were chosen for further investigation in this thesis. These sensors can be positioned inside and outside cable connectors of EWIS so that arc faults can be reliably detected and located. This thesis presents the design, manufacture and test of micro-manufactured Rogowski sensors. The manufactured sensors were benchmarked against commercial high frequency current transformers (HFCT), as these devices can also detect high frequency current signature due to wire insulation failure. Results indicate that these sensors possess superior voltage output compared to the HFCT. The design, manufacture and test of a polymer capacitive humidity sensor is also presented. Two different types of polymer were reviewed as part of the evaluation. A feature of the sensor design is recovery from exposure to chemicals found on wiring bundles. Current and humidity sensors were demonstrated to be suitable for integrating onto a common substrate with accelerometers, temperature sensors and pressure sensors for health monitoring and prognostics of aircraft EWIS.