Company History

Helitune was formed in 1978 to provide advanced Rotor Track & Balance (RTB) equipment to overcome the limitations of equipment available at that time.

Completed in 1982, the Rotortuner Mk1 took advantage of the latest processor technology available and was the world’s first microprocessor-based track and balance system, using advanced algorithms to calculate solutions and an electronic camera to digitally read blade track height.

The UK MOD, impressed with the performance of the system, was Helitune’s first customer, purchasing 25 units for use on their fleet of helicopters. In 1985, the original Rotortuner was re-designed into the Rotortuner 5 (RT-5).

In 1991, Helitune unveiled the Sentinel Balancer, a comprehensive propeller balancer for single or multi engine aircraft. Representing a major breakthrough for fixed-wing aircraft, the Sentinel Balancer allowed operators to optimise the vibration levels of the propellers for flight conditions, for aircraft which had previously been restricted to ground balancing only.

The advanced electronics used in the Sentinel Balancer were enhanced and developed into the next generation of RTB and vibration analysis equipment and became the Rotortuner 2000 (RT-2000), which was released into service in 1996. In addition to modern electronics and a touch screen interface, the RT-2000 utilised advanced algorithms, significantly reducing the number of flights required to return an aircraft to a serviceable state. Helitune continues to develop the RT-2000, with recent releases enhancing the performance and speed of the system. These updates also included replacing the original EHT-20 with the Voyager Hand-Held Terminal in 2002, which incorporated the latest technology in touch screen terminals.

In 2000, in a joint partnership with the UK MOD, Helitune commenced a development programme that would extend the life of the RT-5. This resulted in the Rotortuner 5JS+ (RT-5JS+), a new hardware platform utilising the latest in DSP technology. Running existing software, but with enhanced capability, the RT-5JS+ reduces airborne test time and is designed for reliability with the ability to operate in the most extreme environments.

Part of the development for the RT-5JS+ included significant improvements to the tracking Camera. The Mk 2 Line Scan Camera replaced the original Line Scan Camera and is now capable of accurately tracking rotor blades in extreme weather and light conditions that was not previously possible.

RT-Vision, Helitune's ground station was developed in 2003 and is based around the Windows environment. For the first time, this provided Helitune's customers with an easy-to-use enhanced method of archiving historical data. It also provides trending, reporting and query functions. RT-Vision is continually being developed to complement Helitune's expanding product range.

Presently, there are more than 1000 Rotortuner systems in over 30 countries throughout the world. Its versatility allows the Rotortuner system to be utilised on the majority of operational helicopters world-wide.

Helitune opened two subsidiary offices in 2003, one in Munich, Germany (Helitune GmbH), and one in Richmond, USA (Helitune, Inc.). These subsidiaries were set up to provide in-country sales and support functions specific to the individual customer’s requirements.

Helitune acquired System & Electronics Inc. (SEI) in 2006, a market leader in providing cost-effective Flight Data Recording and Structural Health Monitoring systems for military and commercial applications. This has significantly expanded Helitune’s overall capabilities and allows Helitune to provide the option of future upgrades to an on-board HUMS configured to suit each customer’s individual requirements.

Alongside this, Condition Monitoring Group (CMG) was formed in 2006, bringing together Helitune, SEI and Beran Instruments Ltd. The decision was taken to relocate Helitune, Inc. following the acquisition of SEI, and both now reside together in the same offices in Chicago, USA.

In 2006, Helitune released Rotortuner-JEM (Jet Engine Monitor) which was developed to meet engine manufacturers exacting requirements for run-up, run-down and steady state vibration monitoring. RT-JEM was initially released to the USCG for use on the Arriel2C2 engines, with further development completed in 2008, to enhance RT-JEM for use on both the MTR390 and SAAB Gripen RM12B engines.

In 2008, Helitune introduced its Engine Vibration Analyser (RT-EVA) to address obsolescence of an in-service vibration meter commonly used for aircraft engine vibration checks. This was followed by the release of RT-EVA+ in 2010 which was enhanced to include Charge inputs to interface with accelerometers used by other Rotortuner equipment.

Since 2009, Helitune has developed a Fixed Tracker Camera, designed for permanent installation onto aircraft, which has been approved and installed by one of the biggest European Helicopter OEMs. This provides the benefit of an improved measurement technique, together with the option of being able to install in a fixed position, located on either the exterior or interior of the helicopter.

Helitune introduced the Minimum Flight Routine (MFR) Algorithm in 2010. This new MFR algorithm enables the operator to perform multiple adjustments, dramatically reducing the flight time used for RTB maintenance activities, and providing the following significant benefits:

  •   Fewer maintenance flights required, resulting in reduced costs
  •   Increased aircraft availability for scheduled flights

Since 2011, Helitune has been cooperating with a well-known helicopter organisation to develop the In-Flight Tuning (IFT) System. The first IFT System has been installed onto a heavy lift helicopter for flight trials, after the system’s performance and benefits were successfully demonstrated during trials at the NASA wind tunnel. Based on the work completed already, significant benefits are expected; following the flight trials, it is anticipated that Helitune, together with its project partner, will present the results at various international user forums. 

Further ongoing developments are underway to continually improve and develop the Helitune product portfolio, in order to provide confidence to Helitune’s customer base that the latest technology is being utilised in order to optimise the performance of its equipment, thus ensuring maximum efficiency and minimal operational costs, and ultimately supporting the end users in effectively undertaking their mission.