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Interoperable management of aeronautical generic executive software (IMAGE)

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Getting aeronautics simulation software to cooperate

When software fails, factories grind to a halt, vehicles break down, computers crash... In aeronautics the consequences can be devastating. Widespread use of simulators and simulation software helps prevent the worst from happening. A European project has worked on interoperability tools to get all the different simulators and systems talking together.

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Simulation has been successfully used in aeronautics for more than 30 years, strongly contributing to technological progress in the sector. Simulation software provides support to aircraft designers and engineers and simulators to help train air traffic controllers, pilots and crew. Well-known applications in the aeronautics sector can test aircraft structural dynamics and behaviour in flight, engine combustion chambers, and flight control systems. Realistic flight and air traffic control simulators can familiarise crews and controllers with different potential flying conditions. There is a catch, though. These applications were not usually built at the same time or by the same people. They don't always coordinate well together, which can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous. In particular, differences appear in connection with real-time and numerical simulations. The EU-funded project 'Interoperable management of aeronautical generic executive software' (IMAGE) set out a few years ago to change this. The eight partners in four countries worked on several challenges: better simulations to reduce aircraft development cost and time to market; more efficient and cost-effective flight simulators and computer-based training; and simulations and 'virtual' platforms supporting customer care and information exchange efforts. The team reached its goal of developing what it describes as a 'generic prototyped environment for numerical and interactive simulations optimising aeronautical industry computing investment'. In other words, underlying connection and management technology to boost the effectiveness of current and potentially future simulators and software simulations. Since ending, the IMAGE consortium has conducted demonstrations for multidisciplinary collocated and distributed simulators and for distributed simulators coupling training and education functions. The project has expressed interest in outside support to further validate its prototypes or possible product development. IMAGE's behind-the-scenes work on simulators and simulation software is an important contribution to a sometimes undervalued part of the aeronautics business.

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