MERC was tasked to perform a rapid reverse engineering of a lens cover for the Vertical Trailing Wire Antenna (VTWA) light on the EC-130J. There are no existing spares of the original lens, which had insufficient technical data to reproduce.

Prior efforts to drape mold a replacement failed, and MERC was tasked to use rapid prototyping to prove the ability to recreate the part. MERC successfully reverse engineered an existing part, took a mold of an aircraft interface, and received a spare fairing assembly for fit-check.

Following successful rapid prototyping of the part, MERC used a Coordinate Measurement Machine (CMM) to develop contours of the fairing interfaces. MERC then created a new lens profile around the fairing interfaces and utilized a tougher, more crack resistant material. The resultant lens was prototyped and successfully fitted to both the spare fairing and an active aircraft. MERC procured eleven prototypes in all for assessment by the EC-130J fleet with the twelfth prototype drilled and tested at MERC.

The MERC designed, USAF-owned mold and trim fixture will allow future procurement of the VTWA lenses with reduced NRE. All work was accomplished within 6 months of tasking. Learn more about MERC’s reverse engineering capabilities.