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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NASA Seeks Fix for Rascal Avionics

NASA Ames Research Center issued a request for information (RFI) in June seeking sources to diagnose and repair, or rebuild, malfunctioning electronic input-output processor (IOP) circuit cards for the research flight control computer assembly (RFCCA) on the JUH-60 helicopter. Boeing and Lear Astronics developed the Rotorcraft Aircrew Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory (Rascal) in the 1990s, and the RFCCA unit features the same design standards as existing production military helicopter electronics, according to NASA.

The U.S. government owns the RFCCA designs and schematics of its major circuit cards, but “detailed design documentation, including Gerber files and bill of materials for the IOP cards, are not available,” the RFI states, adding that some “reverse engineering may be required to reconstruct required detailed design information.”

NASA received two RFCCAs with Rascal’s initial development and a third qualification test unit. One of them is still working properly, the other experiences “intermittent IOP card malfunctions,” while the qualification unit is no longer operational. Ames Research Center envisions a two-phase approach, with the first involving a contract to review existing RFCCA design data to investigate IOP card malfunctions—to potentially include reverse engineering—and come up with a plan to repair or remanufacture the cards. The second phase will cover the actual repair/reconstruction of the IOP cards.

The RFI seeks to determine companies that have the required technical and manufacturing expertise, including “information, tools, supplies and techniques,” to repair flight control components in military helicopters. It is also searching for information that will contribute to developing a request for proposals (RFP) related to the IOP circuit board repairs.

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