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Avionics Engineering Center
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NASA Flight Critical Systems


The Avionics Engineering Center has joined a team led by Rannoch Corporation (www.rannoch.com) for the NASA Flight Critical Systems contract (NAS1-00108). The contract supports research and development in five critical areas to support three NASA goals. Other Rannoch team members include: Rockwell Collins, MIT, Drexel, Musyn, CrewSvs, Scientific Systems, Barrow Associates, Caelum, Kalman, SRI, SUNY-Binghamton, and Athena.

The Rannoch team is one of four teams that were awarded contracts for this program. The Rannoch contract is valued at $20M.

NASA Goals and Objectives

The NASA enabling technology goals are:

  1. Reduce aircraft accident rate by factor of 5 in 10 yrs and factor of 10 in 20 years. 
  2. Triple the system capacity (in all weather) in 10 yrs, while maintaining safety. 
  3. Provide next generation design tools and experimental aircraft

The five R&D areas covered by the Flight Critical Systems contract are:

  1. Guidance and Control in Adverse Condition

    • Technology for operation throughout the flight envelope to (1) prevent loss of vehicle control and (2) recover vehicle control form loss-of-control (upset) conditions resulting from adverse flight conditions and vehicle/system failures which can each occur separately or in combinations.

  2. Flight Critical Systems Design and Analysis

    • Develop and demonstrate methods, techniques, and tools for design, verification, integration, validation, and certification of mission and life critical systems.
    • Define methods to analysis and quantify performance in presence of faults
    • Develop databases from simulations and flight research during failure/damage situations.

  3. Flight Critical Systems Health Management

    • Develop existing/future sensing technologies to aid in vehicle-wide health monitoring.
    • Develop concepts, methods, and technologies for distributed, smart systems and onboard diagnostic system architectures.
    • Validate health monitoring and diagnostic system concepts in terms of catastrophic failure detection and decreased maintenance costs.
    • Encompasses failure of: airframe/propulsion/avionics

  4. Situational Awareness

    • Provide real-time information, electronically, to flight crews to improve SA. Includes, but not limited to, current position in 4D, traffic location and type, terrain and obstacles, hazardous weather, flight or taxi path, ATC instructions, hazardous situation alerting.
    • Technologies to improve SA for air traffic controllers. Includes strategic and tactical collaborative decision making, seamless surveillance, controller-pilot datalink, flight path deviations.

  5. Systems Engineering and Analysis

    • Perform systems engineering support of FCS analysis and development from concept through simulation and test.
    • Tasks include: requirements analysis, system functional decomposition, experimental system specification, experimental system design, system verification and validation, cost-benefit studies, modeling simulation, configuration management, systems integration, and systems assurance

Tasks Awarded

Task 1: CPDLC, C-CAST, and LAAS DGPS Data Analysis for Runway Incursion Prevention System (RIPS)

The purpose of this was to assess the performance of the Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) system and the Local-Area Augmentation System (LAAS) Differential GPS Ground Facility (LGF) incorporated in the Runway Incursion Prevention System (RIPS) demonstrated at the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport.


Avionics Engineering Center
Russ College of Engineering and Technology
131 McFarland Avionics Building
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
Tel: (740) 593-1515

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