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NASA Seeks Electronics Fix for Rascal Research Helicopter

By Staff Writer | July 11, 2012
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NASA Ames Research Center is accepting comments through Sunday, July 15 to its request for information (RFI) that seeks 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. Submissions to the RFI are due by July 15 via e-mail to contracting officers and


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. The RFI asks a series of questions:
• What kinds of non-invasive and invasive inspection techniques are available to diagnose the source of IOP circuit board malfunctions?
• What test equipment is required to diagnose IOP circuit board malfunctions and to verify correct functionality?
• What engineering skills and techniques are available to reverse-engineer required missing circuit board design data?
• Can modern manufacturing processes be used to remanufacture circuit boards designed and built 20 years ago?
• What options are available to replace obsolete electronic components?
Related: Technology News

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