Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has developed a robotic procedure for more consistent, reliable testing of cockpit controls. According to LHT, the fully-automated procedure—called RoCCET (Robot Controlled Cockpit Electronics Testing)—can greatly reduce the time it takes employees to manually check cockpit switches and LEDs.
The RoCCET robot features integrated sensors to measure the forces that occur when switches are activated, and it is equipped with several industrial cameras to look for damage and measure brightness from various angles. RoCCET can be used to test for a variety of conditions, such as worn out instrument switches or LED lights that may be too dark for flight operations. According to LHT, human perception of these factors can differ, so robotic testing can make the procedure more consistent and reliable.
“This fully automated procedure allows us to ease the burden on our colleagues in the workshops and reduce the testing effort by one to two hours per component. At the same time, the new procedure provides concrete measurement data in accordance with uniform standards,” explains Florian Sell, manager of the RoCCET project and senior engineer of automated test equipment systems for LHT’s Aircraft Component Services division. “For example, we now have physical threshold values for the brightness of LEDs. And with the help of data mining, we can determine exactly when an LED has to be replaced.”
LHT has completed long-term testing of this data mining using artificially aged switches and says it has “achieved some really promising results.” The company’s next step will be using combined analysis of available aircraft data and newly-generated measurement data from RoCCET for preventive maintenance. The data will help LHT determine when a display or switch is nearing the end of its lifecycle so unplanned repairs or replacements can be reduced.
RoCCET is currently in the integration phase and will initially be used for cockpit controls on Boeing 787 and Airbus A320 and A350 aircraft. LHT says that in the future, its use may be extended to different cockpit and cabin controls on all aircraft types in various locations.