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Summary of the Lectromec Wire Insulation Degradation Analysis System (WIDAS):

  • It assesses the degradation of polyimide (trade name Kapton®) insulated wires and projects remaining service life (wire insulation degradation assessments of other insulations are also available).
  • It is an assessment technique that identifies the impact of maintenance and polymer degradation on the remaining service life.
  • It is an ideal solution for those looking to determine their aircraft’s Electrical Wire Interconnect Systems (EWIS) health during Service Life Assessment Projects (SLAP).

WIDAS 2.0 Introduction

The goal of the Wire Insulation Degradation Analysis System (WIDAS) is to reduce maintenance cost per unit life cycle through an improvement in aircraft wiring reliability and an increase in the availability and productivity of personnel. WIDAS can be utilized to support extended operating cycles, extended life programs, and preventative maintenance practices. It may also be used to support revised maintenance strategies in the face of budget or other resource constraints.

The analysis was developed by Lectromec for the explicit purpose of wire degradation analysis and it is based on literally thousands of tests with various wire constructions. The advantages of WIDAS 2.0 over its predecessor include:

  • Increased accuracy of current wire state
  • Increased accuracy of projected life of the wire
  • Improved sampling algorithms
  • Clearer and more robust descriptions of analysis results
  • Quicker turnaround time

WIDAS Background

Wire Insulation Deterioration Analysis System (WIDAS) is a predictive technology sampling system used to measure a wire’s remaining service life on an active aircraft or fleet. WIDAS combines engineering knowledge of aircraft wiring with selective specimen sampling, accelerated aging of wire specimens in a controlled environment, and expert analysis of test results. These are used to produce a report on the condition of the aircraft wiring. The system is designed to measure the amount of wire insulation deterioration caused by environmental factors such as temperature, moisture, and physical strain. Selective sampling and testing result in a high confidence estimate of the condition of the wire insulation for an entire aircraft or fleet.

The Need

WIDAS determines how critical the wire replacement or wire maintenance need is BEFORE failure occurs. This allows aircraft maintenance personnel to identify, prioritize, and replace selected aircraft wiring (harnesses, bundles, etc.) before the occurrence of events such as unscheduled maintenance, costly extended delays, or a wiring incident. WIDAS gives the operator the ability to better allocate manpower and financial resources as well as improve efficiency. WIDAS, alone or in combination with Inherent Viscosity Testing, can be an excellent means to make better informed decisions regarding planning maintenance activity, rewire actions, or periodic maintenance.

Other benefits of implementing WIDAS into your program include:

  • Improved safety of flight
  • Improved aircraft readiness
  • Reduced frequency and severity of aircraft wire malfunctions and arcing incidents
  • Reduced reports of smoke in the cockpit and cabin
  • Reduced unscheduled maintenance events
  • Fewer “dry run” line replaceable unit (LRU) replacements
  • Organized planning and scheduling for aircraft wire replacement programs
  • Improved maintainability and logistic support
  • Reduced mission aborts and non-mission capable flights

Case Study

Due to delays in acquisition and production, a military organization was in a position where their fleet needed to be in-service for eight years longer than originally anticipated. Faced with an immediate need to assess the condition of their EWIS, the organization turned to Lectromec to assess their EWIS.

The project started with on-site discussions with the organization’s EWIS Risk Assessment for Service Life Extension Programs (SLEP) lead and maintenance personnel. Of the 18 possible locations on the aircraft that would have been subject to examination, using similarity of environmental conditions, Lectromec was able to group several of the locations together and reduced the number of sampling locations to ten.

Samples were removed from several of the fleet’s aircraft (based on the aircraft’s availability and fleet size). Lectromec prepared and tested the samples in our laboratory. Of the ten locations tested, four showed no significant degradation, three showed significant degradation, which led to a recommendation for harness replacement, and the remaining locations were found to have degradation, but were not anticipated to have age-related failures within the remaining fleet service life.

The results from these tests reduced the anticipated number of harnesses in need of replacement and reduced the aircraft’s downtime and maintenance costs associated with the EWIS SLEP.