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Annual Report 2013-14

Feature profiles

Profile | Joanna Kappas

After three years in the US Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, Joanna Kappas is back in Melbourne and has been awarded high recognition for her exceptional public service.

Joanna’s hard work and dedication was recognised with the highest award of the United States Office of the Secretary of Defense to a non-US civilian officer: the Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
The accompanying citation says Joanna is ‘a passionate advocate for state-of-the-art prognostics and life usage management’.

Joanna was one of several staff members from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) to have been rotated into this team based in Arlington, Virginia. The team of six in the US office are committed to aircraft prognostics and health management, monitoring each Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft constantly monitored for its health and mission readiness.

Joanna will now be looking after the health of ADF platforms including the C27J airlifter and the Seahawk Romeo helicopter. The chance to work on a major project while the aircraft’s health and usage management system was being developed and first implemented in the field was a great motivator.

“Being right there while the JSF design was still happening and we could still make changes and still try to point the designers in the right direction— I knew I could make a real difference”, Joanna said. “That was exciting.”

Prognostic and health management systems use a number of sensors and data processing capabilities to monitor vital elements of an aircraft to detect and isolate faults, assess the actual condition of individual elements and enable informed decision-making about maintenance.

DSTO has pioneered the development of several aspects of these systems, particularly the development of advanced vibration diagnostics algorithms and wear debris analysis. Accurate, reliable and up-to-date information about the state of components has saved millions in maintenance budgets and down-time for scheduled servicing.
The JSF is being designed with a range of sensors on board which will combine with a state-of-the-art off-board system to constantly feed aircraft prognostics and health management information.

Joanna says this will change the healthcare future for the aircraft into one we can more readily identify with.
“We go to the doctor when something is not right rather than just because it’s scheduled”, she said.

The JSF’s health management system will also enable the ordering of spare parts and services to be automated as well as facilitate data collection to give early warning of potential faults that might be common across the fleet. All this adds up to a safer and more efficient system that minimises costs.