Digitally Transforming Sustainment and Modernization
How RACER™ Technology is Prolonging Service Life.
Mission Ready. Future Ready.
Speed and efficiency are differentiators when it comes to equipment maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade. The quicker you can address an issue on an aircraft or within a component, the sooner you can get it back into service.
To overcome these obstacles, Northrop Grumman developed RACER™, Robust Accelerated Concurrent Engineering for Repairs, which combines a commercial off-the-shelf scanning capability with propriety technology that can quickly produce a detailed dimensional representation of anything from the smallest of parts to an entire aircraft. RACER™ mitigates risk associated with the lack of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) technical data by establishing a robust, repeatable engineering tool set for metallic and composite structures. RACER™ enables expedited design trade studies and automated technical data package development and is fully deployable to address aircraft battle damage.
A digital game-changer. Its integration into the Digital Sustainment and Modernization Ecosystem (DSME) means uninterrupted readiness for customers.
Scan, Analyze, Repair
“RACER™ can scan for structural problems on an aircraft, like a crack or imperfection. Then we analyze that data using algorithms for things like material strength and tensile strength to calculate a repair without having to replace the whole area,” said Joseph Gardenhour, senior manager of business development. “It’s an amazing tool that provides huge savings in terms of prolonging service life.”
The scans can be transformed into reference and training materials for future use, to ensure new parts will fit correctly before a large order is placed. And, as a bonus, RACER™ can even provide the substantiation data the Federal Aviation Administration requires to prove airworthiness after a repair.
“There are a lot of failed installations out there that we could correct,” says Gardenhour. “And everything is done digitally, so we can repair, overhaul and inspect components without any customer-provided tooling.
An F-16 undergoing SLEP modification was preparing to return to its home unit when Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) technicians identified a damaged longeron requiring repair or replacement typically requiring a minimum of 106 days to resolve. Using Northrop Grumman RACER™ technology, the time from issue identification to repair completion and install was cut in half when compared to a normal repair timeline without employing RACER™ capabilities.
“RACER™ is a great example of using technology to pinpoint an issue and make better informed decisions to solve problems that are very common in a depot environment,” Gardenhour said. “We want to get aircraft off the depot lines and back out to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. That means making sure mechanics can do what they are hired to do — direct labor fixing airplanes — not being sidetracked by indirect tasks like searching for obscure parts.”