Lakehurst team wins project of year in technology transition

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Eddie Bacharach, watches a catapult launch off the flight deck of forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst team members were recognized during the 2020 Naval Innovative Science & Engineering (NISE) Outstanding Project of the Year Awards April 7, for successfully developing a Real Time Health Monitor for the Steam Catapult Low Loss Launch Valve (LLLV).

The Steam Catapult LLLV is a critical component in regulating the flow of steam for aircraft launch aboard aircraft carriers. If the LLLV performance is degraded, it can slow catapult end speeds, potentially leading to unsuccessful launches. These failed launches can damage the aircraft and pose major safety hazards.

In order to expedite LLLV performance monitoring and troubleshooting, a team of NAWCAD Lakehurst engineers identified the need for a real-time monitoring system. They worked to secure out-of-cycle NISE funding to develop algorithms for automated performance analysis, which would result in greater situational awareness and faster maintenance action decisions.

“The safety of the fleet is always of upmost priority,” said Kathleen Donnelly, NAWCAD Lakehurst executive director. “The improvements made by the team to detect and mitigate potential safety hazards due to equipment failure deserves recognition for their sense of urgency to find a solution.”

While the previous program detected performance anomalies semi-monthly after data review, the new algorithms assess performance autonomously with each launch.

“By detecting these irregularities earlier, maintenance of LLLVs can be better planned, probability of undetected performance degradation during operation can be reduced, and launch success and safety rates can increase,” said Glenn Shevach, NAWCAD Lakehurst Integrated Diagnostics and Automated Test Systems lab director.

“This effort is a true testament to what the Navy and NISE Program can accomplish when all parties involved are fully informed and working efficiently towards improving the capabilities of our fleet,” Shevach said. “The effort was not without challenges, and there will sure be more as we work towards improving and integrating this capability.”

For their efforts in developing the Real Time Health Monitor for Steam Catapult LLLVs, Shevach and his team members, Kurt Lindhult, Daniel Vidal, James Sargianis and John Wheelock, received accolades in Technology Transition during the NISE Outstanding Project of the Year Awards.

“Leading this interdisciplinary team of diverse and talented Subject Matter Experts and Science and Technology engineers was a great privilege. All those involved, especially Lakehurst leadership, helped keep progress rapidly moving forward,” Shevach said.