A new robust method of automated real-time diagnosis of faults in an aircraft engine or a similar complex system involves the use of a bank of Kalman filters. In order to be highly reliable, a diagnostic system must be designed to account for the numerous failure conditions that an aircraft engine may encounter in operation. The method achieves this objective though the utilization of multiple Kalman filters, each of which is uniquely designed based on a specific failure hypothesis. A fault-detection- and-isolation (FDI) system, developed based on this method, is able to isolate faults in sensors and actuators while detecting component faults (abrupt degradation in engine component performance). By affording a capability for real-time identification of minor faults before they grow into major ones, the method promises to enhance safety and reduce operating costs.

This FDI System accepts information on gradual aging of an engine to retain its effectiveness in fault diagnosis.
The robustness of this method is further enhanced by incorporating information regarding the aging condition of an engine. In general, real-time fault diagnostic methods use the nominal performance of a "healthy" new engine as a reference condition in the diagnostic process. Such an approach does not account for gradual changes in performance associated with aging of an otherwise healthy engine. By incorporating information on gradual, aging-related changes, the new method makes it possible to retain at least some of the sensitivity and accuracy needed to detect incipient faults while preventing false alarms that could result from erroneous interpretation of symptoms of aging as symptoms of failures.

The figure schematically depicts an FDI system according to the new method. The FDI system is integrated with an engine, from which it accepts two sets of input signals: sensor readings and actuator commands. Two main parts of the FDI system are a bank of Kalman filters and a subsystem that implements FDI decision rules. Each Kalman filter is designed to detect a specific sensor or actuator fault. When a sensor or actuator fault occurs, large estimation errors are generated by all filters except the one using the correct hypothesis. By monitor-ing the residual output of each filter, the specific fault that has occurred can be detected and isolated on the basis of the decision rules.

A set of parameters that indicate the performance of the engine components is estimated by the "correct" Kalman filter for use in detecting component faults. To reduce the loss of diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity in the face of aging, the FDI system accepts information from a steady-state-condition-monitoring system. This information is used to update the Kalman filters and a data bank of trim values representative of the current aging condition.

This work was done by Takahisa Kobayashi of QSS Group, Inc. and Donald L. Simon of Army Research Laboratory for Glenn Research Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Information Sciences category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to:

NASA Glenn Research Center

Commercial Technology Office

Attn: Steve Fedor

Mail Stop 4-8

21000 Brookpark Road

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Refer to LEW-17457.