3D graphic of a yellow turbine engine

Rolls-Royce has been awarded $1 million of research funding from the US Navy for its FanSense™ digital foreign object debris (FOD) on-engine detection system developed in collaboration with Roke.

Roke is the long-term technology partner on the project, and this 12 month research contract will help to further develop and validate the monitoring system, which is currently being used on the Pegasus engine.

Since 2010, Roke has been working with Rolls-Royce to develop a variety of ground based and on-engine monitoring systems to reduce maintenance time for large civil engines. Sensing capabilities including acoustic, image and engine speed processing have been applied to determine what features of engine behaviour can be monitored and used to indicate when maintenance is required or when certain events have occurred.

In this project, Roke engineers will apply their expertise in signal processing to detect FOD impacts on fans for FanSense™. This function is integral to the system and is currently being incorporated into the engine, enabling the timing of FOD impacts to be detected in-situ. This will help to identify the conditions and locations at which FOD ingestion could be harmful, reducing cost of operation and maintenance, and improving safety.

Said Paul MacGregor, Managing Director of Roke:

“Building on our longstanding relationship with Rolls-Royce, we’re delighted to be providing our expertise on the pioneering FanSense™ system. Our engineers are combining their signal processing and sensing know-how with real world physics to help develop a solution that could significantly reduce costs and improve safety across the aviation industry.

“This project demonstrates how we are maintaining our technological leadership to solve real world technical challenges and help our customers revolutionise and improve their world.”

Edwin Clark, Services Growth & Portfolio Lead for Rolls-Royce, commented:

“This innovative project with Roke demonstrates the collaborative spirit which has already delivered ground-breaking developments to the FanSense™ project. The research funding granted by the US Navy will allow us to enhance our technologies further and improve safety, efficiency and deliver a cultural change for our customers.”

The FanSense™ technology adds to Rolls-Royce’s portfolio of FOD prevention offerings, including an app, a cloud data analysis service and FOD officers. It will allow customers across Civil and Defence industries to detect much smaller debris, such as stones or screws, entering the engine, enabling them to build a clearer picture of FOD damage and engine wear over time and will help to identify airfields that need to improve their FOD prevention practices.

Research estimates that FOD costs the global aviation industry billions of dollars per year in damage and disruption. The vast majority of debris goes undetected, and only when very large items are ingested do operators have any indication that something has made its way into the engine.

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