Military Embedded Systems

Open architectures and COTS testing hot topics among embedded computing suppliers at European avionics event


April 27, 2017

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

MUNICH, Germany. Discussions on safety certification and COTS open architectures for testing equipment were of most interest to embedded computing suppliers attending the Aviation Electronics Europe show and its sister conference the Avionics & Space Testing Expo -- both held this week in Munich.

In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that I am a member of the Advisory Committee for both events. I also got an up close look at the COTS and Open Architecture discussions in the Avionics & Space Testing Expo as a moderator for each of those sessions.

MIL-STD 1553 and its continued proliferation in the avionics market -- commercial and military -- was noted throughout the Open Architecture session and the COTS Testing session with Ben Daniel of Abaco Systems and Joachim Schuler, General Manager, AIM GmbH, noting how 1553-based products continue to be a profitable part of their respective portfolios. For more from Ben Daniel on avionics data buses, click here.

Increased flexibility at the design level combined with greater use of open architectures is key for avionics test suppliers moving forward especially when upgrading older systems -- many of which are 1553-based -- to ensure a smooth transition from the legacy technology, said Andreas Himmler, Business Development Manager Aerospace, Product Management, dSPACE GmbH during his presentation.

David Chamberlain, Systems Engineer, Curtiss-Wright also detailed how his company developed testing methods for proving the reliability of COTS electronics in space systems. His colleague Danny Gleeson detailed Curtiss-Wright's entry into the radiation-hardened market in this article from 2015.

In the main session of the Aviation Electronics Europe conference Alex Wilson of Wind River spoke on the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) and how it can apply to European avionics systems development. “It provides an opportunity for non-U.S. suppliers to [go for] U.S. programs,” Wilson said in his presentation. Understanding FACE and complying with it is particularly important as many U.S. aircraft programs may require FACE in the future or that they show a path for upgrading to FACE-compliant systems, he added.

Wilson went on to say that the number of alternative standards are lacking and that FACE is well suited for adoption by NATO as it is becoming a de facto standard with U.S. adoption. For more on the proliferation of open architecture initiatives in the U.S. read my column here

FACE enables reuse of software components, which is also beneficial to those who need to meet safety certification requirements such as DO-178B/C and DO-254. There was extensive coverage of this subject at the event including an entire workshop covering safety certification and multicore. Two certified hardware and software training courses run Vance Hilderman, president of AFuzion, were packed throughout the event.

With all the changes in recent years to the certification standards, avionics professionals need the training to keep up.

"The avionics development echo system is undergoing massive changes,". Hilderman said. "The core documents are relatively unchanged but the systems, safety, and verification process of our being continually refined and reinterpreted to North American and European standards."

For more on safegty certification from AFuzion, view this on-demand webinar led by Hilderman and Jama Software.