Planetary bearing defect detection in a commercial helicopter main gearbox with vibration and acoustic emission

Faris Elasha, David Mba, Matthew Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
362 Downloads (Pure)


Helicopter gearboxes significantly differ from other transmission types and exhibit unique behaviors that reduce the effectiveness of traditional fault diagnostics methods. In addition, due to lack of redundancy, helicopter transmission failure can lead to catastrophic accidents. Bearing faults in helicopter gearboxes are difficult to discriminate due to the low signal to noise ratio (SNR) in the presence of gear vibration. In addition, the vibration response from the planet gear bearings must be transmitted via a time-varying path through the ring gear to externally mounted accelerometers, which cause yet further bearing vibration signal suppression. This research programme has resulted in the successful proof of concept of a broadband wireless transmission sensor that incorporates power scavenging whilst operating within a helicopter gearbox. In addition, this paper investigates the application of signal separation techniques in detection of bearing faults within the epicyclic module of a large helicopter (CS-29) main gearbox using vibration and Acoustic Emissions (AE). It compares their effectiveness for various operating conditions. Three signal processing techniques including an adaptive filter, spectral kurtosis and envelope analysis, were combined for this investigation. In addition, this research discusses the feasibility of using AE for helicopter gearbox monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1212
Number of pages21
JournalStructural Health Monitoring
Issue number5
Early online date11 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Helicopter Main gearbox
  • bearing diagnostics
  • signal separation
  • Acoustic Emission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering


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