Airmen from the 412th Maintenance Group tested a new scanning tool that could reduce troubleshooting time and costs for aircraft maintenance at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., recently.
The new tool is called the Advanced Mobile Universal Electrical Tool, or AMUET. The AMUET is a device that maintainers can use to scan an aircraft’s electrical systems and root out problems in the wiring.
“The idea behind this is ultimately, if a jet breaks down for one of the systems that the AMUET tests, then we can pull up a baseline (of electric systems),” said Tech. Sgt. Alex Franz, 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We can then run the AMUET on it again and we can compare the results; if anything stands out, we can easily identify it and save a lot of time.”
Additionally, the AMUET is a preventative maintenance aide, used during phased inspections to identify wiring issues early, Franz added.
Currently, if maintainers were required to check an aircraft’s electrical wiring system, they would have to check the dozens of wire bundles individually. However, a wire bundle may contain dozens of individualized wires inside, coupled to a pin at the connector housing at the end of the wire bundle. To find faults in a wiring system, maintainers must inspect each individual pin with a handheld multi-meter tool. The procedure can be a time-extensive process, Franz said.
Besides the time-saving feature, an added benefit is better maintenance, said Alain Lussier, Technologies Harness Scanner president. Lussier and THS developed the AMUET tool to streamline a process that could take hours and did not guarantee finding the fault.
The AMUET tool is not only faster and more accurate, but also more detailed, Lussier said.
“We find things that we didn’t expect; that’s a game-changer,” Lussier said. “The real value is preventive maintenance with a real benefit in the increase in reliability.”
An AMUET is about the size of a box of tissues and comes with a wire-making kit that maintainers can customize to mate up with any wire connector on an aircraft. Once the system is activated, the AMUET can run diagnostics on the wires and uploads the results to a local computer in a matter of minutes.
“There’s probably a couple hundred pins that we’re shooting (testing via handheld multi-meter), and it only took about five minutes to run the test (with AMUET),” Franz said. “If we were to shoot a hundred pins by hand through the entire system, it would probably take a couple of hours.”
The AMUET testing was conducted by the 412th Test Wing with guidance from the Secretary of the Air Force’s International Armaments Cooperation Division-Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT). The FCT allows the Air Force to field innovative technologies from partner nations, said William Reed, Lead Test Engineer, SAF/IAPC-FCT.
“The FCT connects foreign technologies to the U.S. DOD development acquisition programs,” Reed said.
This unique opportunity further strengthens relationships between allies while at the same time expose the Air Force to other technologies across borders, he explained. The FCT also provides significant cost savings and makes fielding technologies to the warfighter easier.
“I want to get these items to the Warfighter as soon as possible,” Reed said. “Edwards is the best place for this, this is what they do. The maintainers were on it, they picked up on it real quick.
From a leadership standpoint, the FCT could be another tool to bring emerging technologies to the Warfighter. As stated in the latest National Defense Strategy, innovation is a keystone for greater performance and affordability. Employing tools such as AMUET is also a pathway to the “Flight Line of the Future” concept of ideas, said Col. Lawrence Havird, 412th Maintenance Group Commander.
“We’re our own worst enemy when it comes to not leveraging innovative technologies,” Havird said.
While AMUET has not been adopted by the Air Force maintenance community yet, the 412th MXG Airmen testing the tool already see the benefits. Franz also sees the opportunity of being involved in the testing process.
“We’re able to get our hands on the AMUET and be able to talk to the company representatives and give them feedback and they can take our suggestions and work on making SOPs (standard operating procedures),” Franz said. “It would be an awesome privilege to be a part of history; to say ‘we did it here first.’ So it is absolutely critical for us to get it right.”