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Avionics | Contracts - Awards | Field Innovations | Fighters & Attack | Fuel & Power | Helicopters & Rotary | Project Successes | USA

Start Me Up: Smart Thinking at NAVAIR

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CH-53E at work(click to view full) Stop us if you’ve had a laptop and heard this refrain before: your battery draws down when not being used. If it’s recharged, it may “remember” the level it was at and can’t be brought back to full capacity. The maximum level of charge also keeps dropping. This means more frequent battery replacements if you want them to be of much use. Turns out the US Navy has heard this one too, only the NiCad batteries weren’t in laptops. They were in F-5 “aggressor” aircraft at Top Gun, powering the inertial navigation system and emergency wingtip speed brakes on EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, running fire suppression and emergency exit lighting on H-53 helicopters, and offering last-chance backup for items like aircraft flight-control computers in case the main engine-driven generator should fail. On the H-53 heavy lift helicopters, for example, 1 in 12 NiCad batteries failed every month because of poor design. Constant charging, maintenance to remove “memory effect,” and replacement was taking a costly toll in batteries. At 37,000 hours a year for the H-53 fleet, it was also taking a heavy toll on maintenance time. Something had to be done – and […]

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