RAF Tornado GR4 - Ncompass™ Intermittent Fault Detection Case Studies


The Tornado is the UK’s leading ground attack aircraft.  It has been constantly deployed on operations in recent years and whilst its offensive capability remains second to none, the core platform is starting to show its age. 

Ncompass™ IFD testing was applied very successfully on Tornado GR4 aircraft systems in the 2 projects described on this page and in the video below. 

Nose-Wheel Steering Wiring 

The nose-wheel steering system is susceptible to intermittent faults that are difficult to diagnose during flight line maintenance, which often leads to speculative replacement of other components. A 2009 pilot project was conducted which successfully demonstrated the ability of the Ncompass™ to detect hard and intermittent faults that conventional equipment were unable to detect. Unserviceable harnesses were confirmed to have intermittency and continuity faults; brand-new harnesses were confirmed as being both intermittency-free and continuity fault-free; and life-expired harnesses were found with intermittent faults even though they passed continuity testing. 

Secondary Power System: the 5-year intermittent fault 

In another example, one specific Tornado aircraft had suffered an intermittent fault within the secondary power system since 2006. Copernicus Technology Ltd were requested to assist in 2011.

An analysis of the fault-maintenance history was conducted, along with an intermittent fault diagnosis of the system. As most of the system LRUs had already been replaced it was agreed that the condition of the wiring should be tested. The system’s wiring integrity was tested with an Ncompass™ and this found that 12% of the cables tested had intermittency/noise/continuity issues.  

These cables were repaired by the RAF and then Copernicus Technology Ltd re-tested the system wiring, which confirmed that the system’s wiring integrity had been fully restored. Once the aircraft was rebuilt for flight testing it transpired that the intermittent fault’s symptoms were unchanged, enabling the RAF to now rule both the LRUs and the wiring out of the diagnosis. An external influence was suspected and this was traced to a faulty circuit-breaker (CB), which was outside the scope of the wiring tested by the Ncompass™. The CB was Ncompass™-tested which immediately confirmed that it was highly intermittent - once it had been replaced the fault did not recur.  See the video below of Ncompass™ testing the CB, illustrating the ease of intermittent fault detection coupled with the immediate visual results feedback.

The Ncompass™ testing conducted by Copernicus Technology vastly accelerated the timeframe for isolating the fault, hence a ‘No Fault Found ‘ which had persisted for years was ultimately resolved in a matter of days. 

Download the video (12.5Mb - right click and choose "Save Link As") 

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