Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) has been awarded a $4 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, under the Critical R&D SBIR program, to develop an inlet and exhaust damage registration sensor for high-performance aircraft.
The US Air Force is interested in improving methods to quickly and effectively assess aircraft damage that occurs during routine training, combat and maintenance activities. Demanding operational tempos require near real time assessment of aircraft operational status. Though partially automated health assessment systems have been integrated into daily maintenance routines, many inspections are still conducted manually, including inspecting engine inlet and exhaust cavities.
To address this critical need, in this effort IAI will develop AUTO-SCAN, a simple, cost-effective automated inlet and exhaust coating damage registration system that electronically captures the defect/damage characteristics, location, and orientation relative to the aircraft coordinate system for transfer to existing aircraft maintenance health assessment systems. Designed to reduce inspection times and eliminate sources of human error, AUTO-SCAN will be a portable hand held device that is quick and easy to set up and tear down, and is suitable for flight-line environment. It can be used in legacy and emerging fighter aircraft as well as in private and commercial aerospace sectors.
In an earlier effort, the feasibility of the AUTO-SCAN concept has already been demonstrated through the design, development and testing of a prototype. The AUTO-SCAN system will now be developed to TRL 8/MRL 6 maturity and integrated with current aircraft health assessment systems.
"Intelligent Automation is excited to have an opportunity to develop a system for the Air Force that will significantly increase aircraft reliability and availability while reducing lifecycle maintenance costs. Our solution builds on over a decade of IAI's experience in Robotics, Machine Vision and Non-Destructive Inspection," said Dr. Vikram Manikonda, President of IAI.