Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


OWACSA Report Summary

Project ID: 641577
Funded under: FP7-JTI
Country: France

Final Report Summary - OWACSA (Autonomous Camera System validation and its installation on an in-service Aircraft for Leading Edge Photography)

Executive Summary:
The CleanSky Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator (SFWA-ITD) consortium is interested in understanding the typical level of contamination and minor damage to a wing leading-edge in operational service.
LMSM has developed an autonomous high resolution micro camera system for the installation on an in-service aircraft that can view a large section of the wing leading-edge with slats motions (extended slats during takeoff and landing and retracted slats elsewhere). This system contains an automatic identification of flight phases, a great memory, a high picture resolution, an autonomous power system working at low temperature and a wireless picture downloading.
Thanks to CaptiFlex, a patented technology, LMSM micro camera system will be quickly installed in a fairing at the fuselage.
So, LMSM technical solution meets the very ambitious requirements of this topic.
Thanks to the new technologies and solutions implemented during the development of the system, the “stick and measure” concept is now a reality. LMSM products are available and thanks to its know-how and design methodology they can be adapted to various other configurations or applications.

Project Context and Objectives:
Topic Manager (Airbus Deutschland) initial objectives for the technical micro camera system solution are:
• To include the following components: camera, power system, memory and control system, mount for all components, aerodynamic fairing to cover the complete camera system.
• To ensure an easy installation of the camera system and fairing during an overnight check without the necessity of permanent changes to the aircraft structure.
• To work under the consideration of typical operating conditions during the flight.
• To have a viewing area of about 500 mm span by 250 mm chord at the span wise location to be defined to suit the camera choice and installation. Slats have no motion and so are retracted.
• To ensure camera view to be of suitable quality to be able to capture insect contaminations within the recordings. An objective of a minimum spatial resolution of about 4 px/mm will be needed as typical insect residues have the size of about 1 mm in lateral direction.
• To operate fully autonomously without external power source for the expected number of days away from the home base or until down loading of data is practically possible. System ensures that recording equipment take pictures every 10-60 seconds during climb-out and descent and every 15 minutes during cruise.
• To Record altitude for each image (e.g. GPS sensor) and to ensure allocation of altitude data to the recorded images. Time (GMT) and date to be inserted on the images.
• To ensure easy access to data storage (e.g. wireless data reading to avoid necessity of camera access).
• To develop in a very short time (12 months) and at a very low budget (145 k€).
Topic Manager supports aerodynamic design, certification process and installation onto aircraft. Further requirements during the development
During the development, the system was further improved so as to meet the following requirements:
• The viewing area was increased to 800 mm/1000 mm span which is about twice the initial requirement.
• Pictures have also to be taken during the takeoff and landing phases, every ten seconds but no more during cruise. The beginning of landing phase is defined by its height to the airport arrival; height is the difference between aircraft altitude and ground altitude.
• The aircraft can be an A320 and its slats are extended during takeoff and landing phases.
• There are about 5 flights a day and about 100 pictures are to be taken during each flight. Data downloading must be performed only every two days.
• The camera must be arranged on the fuselage at 4 m from the middle of the leading edge.
• Monitoring will be performed during 14 months except December and January months.

These further requirements increase the initial objectives such as:
• A three times greater viewing area at least and the same increase in picture volume, and their consequences on the allocated data storage and power required for the wireless data transfer.
• A greater depth of field and so a difficult challenge for the improvement of the camera in order to achieve the high spatial resolution required.

In the A320 flight domain and at the position on the fuselage, airframe temperature is comprised between -38°C and +45°C, the cruise Mach number is M0.78, the cruise speed goes up to 220 m/s, the cruise altitude is 33 000’ and pressure varies from 250 hPa to 1500 hPa.
These ambitious objectives lead to take up the following challenges:
• Designing a power system working at low temperature (about -40°C) and at low pressure (250 hPa) for supplying enough power for two days at least.
• Identifying automatically flight and ground phases that are not known by the system. For instance the landing phase begins respectively at 3010’ before landing in Marseille-Marignane arrival and 4400’ before landing in Zurich.
• Providing high picture resolution at 4 m.
• Adapting the CaptiFlex technology to the micro camera system. CaptiFlex is a technology allowing sensors to be installed on the outer skin of airframe.
• Providing an automatic wireless solution for quickly downloading pictures.

During the evaluation process of our proposal, expert had found out two innovations: CaptiFlex technology and Power system.

Project Results: Project management
The technical project was organized in 4 Work Packages:
• Camera and control system
• Power system
• Integration into CaptiFlex
• Aircraft installation
A scientific project manager who is a very experienced researcher (more than 30 years) both in transonic flutter and flight test has been assigned.
Project expenses finally amount to 356 k€ (295 k€ for Research and Technology Development and 61 k€ for Management) spread as follow: 317 k€ for LMSM and 39 k€ for LMSM’s subcontractors. Its represent an effort of 39 Person-Months for LMSM. Technical results Architecture
The architecture of developed system is shown in the following bloc diagram and has a separate power supply coupled to the control system which includes the micro camera as well as the acquisition system. Camera
To meet the different requirements, the chosen camera has the following specifications:
• 35 MPx retina sensor with 1.1 µm pixel dimension
• High quality 6-lens, f/2.2 and a 26 mm focal length
• Total thickness of about 10 mm and low weight
• Low-power camera
• Shooting time less than 5 seconds.
So, due to the 25° leading edge swept angle and greater area view, the spatial resolution is comprised between 3 Px/mm and more than 4 px/mm. Each picture has at least a 3MB volume. Control system
It works at an external temperature of -40°C.
It includes WiFi, a GPS and other sensors such as accelerometers.
It has a 32 GB memory which allows to record about 10 500 pictures, with a 21 days autonomy.
For instance, during a Paris Orly-Marseille commercial flight, the system took pictures according to the following scheme: one picture every 10 s during takeoff and landing, one picture every minute during climb out, no picture during cruise and one picture every two minutes during descent. During its cruise, the aircraft's altitude decreased a little down to the 30 000’ limits (which is the beginning of the descent phase) and afterwards increased a lit bit over 30 000’; that is why on the following graph, pictures were taken during the end of cruise phase.

During this flight, mean power consumptions are:
Phase Power consumption (W)
Taxi out 0.8
Takeoff 1.6
Climb out 0.9
Cruise 0.9
Descent 0.9
Landing 1.6
Taxi in 0.8
Parking 0.7
But some functions of the micro camera system demands power peaks from about 6W up to 20 W. Wireless transfert
For downloading pictures WiFi is used. Test for downloading 85 pictures of about 1MB each with an ADSL link shows a transfer rate of about 700 kb/s. But for downloading 1000 pictures of 3MB each, it is insufficient. ADSL is the bottle neck of the transmission.
So, the choice is to get a dedicated fibre optics or VSDL2 as internet link with a real speed of 50 Mbps at least as internet flow. Afterwards, the bottle neck is the real Wifi flow. Such a solution allows transferring the two day picture records in less than about 10 minutes. Power system
• It operates at -40°C and under low pressure such as 250 hPa
• It Supplies high power peak when needed. Integration into CaptiFlex
In order to match with easy installation on Aircraft and A320 flight domain constrains (temperature [-38°C ; +45°C], M0.78, FL350, [250 hPa ; 1500 hPa]), the CaptiFlex technology was used. It provides support sheet with adhesive tape and tapered edge on its boundaries, cavities to set up sensors and/or electronics and covers to close cavities.
Mechanical and thermal and pressure stresses were testing during flight test up to M0.92 and FL400 and dynamic pressure 320 hPa. In addition, long term lab-tests were successfully performed with a cycle of 3 h simulated flight during more than 300 cycles.
Vibration lab-tests were successfully performed under the French military GAM EG 13 standard which is equivalent to the DO 160 standard.
CaptiFlex EMI lab-tests and light protection were also performed under NF 17025 standard. Installation on Aircraft
Topic Manager has the responsibilities of Certification process and installation of the micro camera system on aircraft; LMSM gives only installation procedures and will deliver technical assistance for its installation.
For the first installation of the system on a DGA EV Alpha-Jet aircraft, the duration for setting up 10 sensors was about 2 hours. Such a time matches with the installation time requirement during an overnight check.
In a few words, the installation procedure begins by mounting the system on the aircraft outer airframe.
Then, energy storage is charged and afterwards control system software is powered on.
Finally, every cover is set up on its own cavity and a waterproofing around it is performed. Time line and main milestones
The timeline has been modified during the project and finally all workpackage have been done. The development time was 18 months.
The main milestones were:
• Camera system and its aircraft location allowing achieving quality photography defined at M0 + 5
• Power system and strategy defined at M0 + 7
• CaptiFlex design completed at M0 + 15
• Prototype of the complete system available at M0 + 18
• Detailed documentation at M0 + 18
Where: M0 + n is the number of month from the kick off meeting.

Potential Impact: Socio economic
Thanks to the new technologies and solutions implemented during the development of the system, the “stick and measure” concept is now a reality. LMSM products are available and thanks to its know-how and design methodology they can be adapted to various other configurations or applications such as flight test instrumentations. Dissemination
LMSM presents a paper at ETC 2016 (European Telemetry and Test conference) in May 2016 “Instrumentation for outer measurements in aeronautical applications” by Alain LAURENT, the scientific OWACSA project manager; This paper mainly discusses on the results of this project.
LMSM will present other paper on the outputs of this project further such as at the French Aeronautical and Astronautical Association or aeronov
LMSM will contact specialized magazines for technical articles. Exploitation of results
LMSM will place a data sheet of its new products coming from the foregrounds.

LMSM has already informed its customers about these new products.

List of Websites:
soon on

Related information

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top