Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - ASHLEY (Avionics Systems Hosted on a distributed modular electronics Large scale dEmonstrator for multiple tYpe of aircraft)

Executive Summary:
In search for a more competitive and innovative avionic platform solution, based on IMA (Integrated Modular Avionics) and capable to suite multiple types of aircrafts, the European aerospace industry initiated the IMA2G paradigm thanks to the EC funded SCARLETT project.

This latter successfully validated a first underlying set of IMA2G concepts (Separate Core Processing resources from I/O resources, introduce resource segments typology of electronics solutions, provide platform services layer to function supplier etc.), thus creating the expected Distributed Modular Electronics (DME) breakthrough to lay IMA2G solid rock foundations.

The goal of the work within ASHLEY was to go on carrying out research on top of the existing SCARLETT state-of-the-art in areas where innovations are likely to make the most of DME growth potential:
• Extension of DME concepts and solutions to other aircraft domains, especially the Aircraft Information System Domain (AISD or open world) and the cabin domain, leading to the definition of DME security components
• Extension of DME common remote I/O management resources to Secondary Power Distribution and additional Time and Safety Critical aircraft systems such as High Lift,
• Multi-domain, secured Data Distribution services to streamline aircraft data distribution
• Development of an efficient system designer oriented IMA2G Tooling Framework solution that remains compliant with IMA2G industrial and certification constraints.
• Development of a generation of digital smart actuators and sensors, including those based on new advanced photonics technologies.

These innovations were supported by advanced processes, methods and tools developed to enable an efficient implementation for future aircraft programmes. They were validated on the ASHLEY Large Scale aircraft representative Demonstrator by integration of a set of representative applications for avionics and open world.
In conclusion, ASHLEY consolidated and integrated the results of SCARLETT and several national collaborative research projects to achieve demonstration of the most advanced building blocks available today in a whole aircraft-level platform.

Project Context and Objectives:
The IMA (Integrated Modular Avionics) concept proposes an integrated architecture with application software portable across an assembly of common hardware modules. This architectural approach has been developed in the past 20 years and is now implemented in state-of-the art current commercial aircraft (first generation IMA, or IMA1G).

The FP7 collaborative project SCARLETT (2008-2012) defined a new generation of IMA components with a view to improve performance and address all types of aircraft. SCARLETT introduced the breakthrough Distributed Modular Electronics (DME) concept and defined building blocks of the 2nd generation of IMA (IMA2G) by concentrating its effort on the Aircraft Control Domain (ACD).

The ASHLEY project (2013-2017) was designed to make the most of the DME potential by focusing on the following areas where significant innovations were expected:
• Extension of DME concepts and solutions to other aircraft domains, especially the Aircraft Information System Domain (AISD or open world) and the cabin domain, leading to the definition of DME security components
• Extension of DME common remote I/O management resources to Secondary Power Distribution and additional Time and Safety Critical aircraft systems such as High Lift,
• Multi-domain, secured Data Distribution services to streamline aircraft data distribution
• Development of an efficient system designer oriented IMA2G Tooling Framework solution that remains compliant with IMA2G industrial and certification constraints.
• Development of a generation of digital smart actuators and sensors, including those based on new advanced photonics technologies.

The overall objective of the ASHLEY project was to improve the current IMA2G Distributed Platform. To achieve this, the following technical objectives were defined:
• To extend the DME concept and set of components over the Open World and Cabin aircraft domains for large aircrafts, regional aircrafts and business jets.
• To propose DME remote resources solutions for Secondary Power Distribution and Time Criticality aircraft systems.
• To evaluate the benefits of photonics and smart interfaces to sensors and actuators to increase performances of some avionics systems.
• To provide Database Services covering both the avionics world and open world to allow for a higher flexibility in avionics systems design.
• To decrease avionics (multi-domains) function overall design time thanks to a more system designer oriented tool chain.
• To validate the ASHLEY advanced state of the art by implementing a large scale demonstrator consisting of a set of representative aircraft systems onto the DME extended set of components.
• To promote DME concepts and innovations to any IMA key stakeholders (industrial, academics, certification and standardization bodies) that will influence existing academia and market and create new ones.


The ASHLEY project was broken down into several technical sub-projects:

• The sub-project “Requirements Definition, Certification & Standardisation” first defined the set of projects requirements that would be flowed down to the other sub-projects and served as a reference against the demonstration results. It was also the place where the Certification and Standardisation roadmaps were defined and implemented. Lastly it hosted the Delivery Centre (i.e. the maturity assessment if the DME components prior to their use within the project, whether they were coming from the project or outside the project) and Training Support activities (to ensure sufficient knowledge sharing amongst the partners prior to integration that would lead to demonstration).

• The sub-project “DME Tools and Framework” developed the ASHLEY framework approach, i.e. a unified approach to IMA2G data flow handling through a consistent Graphic User Interface. The ASHLEY framework covers a large set of tools (from function modelling, early validation of DME resources allocations to module and network configuration generation and data loading). This sub-project also hosted the tools development (especially to enhance DME remote component tooling efficiency) or adaptation (to adapt existing tools to the framework requirements).

• The sub-project “DME Platform Technologies and Resources Development” developed some of the more promising IMA2G innovations. This sub-project covered applicative middleware layers (database services, smart components) to ease data exchanges between avionics functions, photonics solutions as a new sensing technology (to provide weight reduction as well as simplified routing and installation), DME solutions to new aircraft domain (namely the Open World / Operator Domain). This sub-project was also the place where ASHLEY adapted most of the DME HW resources required for the demonstration (with a strong focus on DME remote component). Lastly this sub-project included the IMA2G Advanced Studies to have a look at the deployment of advanced technology studies focused on topics of particular relevance to the project and looking to innovative trends.

• The sub-project “Avionics Functions Development” developed the avionics functions whose architecture utilised and validated the technologies.

• The sub-project “Large Scale Demonstration of DME Platform” provided a set of aircraft level capabilities demonstration used for the ASHLEY project evaluation. This was achieved by collecting individual assessment: performance of DME modules in the avionics architectures, the tooling and framework efficiency, and the technology readiness of low level component (e.g. photonic solution).

In addition, one sub-project was devoted to the project evaluation, exploitation and dissemination and one other sub-project was in charge of project administration and technical management.

• The sub-project “Evaluation, Exploitation, Dissemination” gathered all project activities that enabled the measurement of project success, ensured fair IPR management amongst partners, provided sufficient knowledge dissemination to the scientific community and prepared further validation and deployment of the ASHLEY results.

• The sub-project “Project Administration and Technical Management” was the place where the project administration, monitoring and reporting activities took place. The overall technical consistency and convergence towards ASHLEY high level objectives was also part of this sub-project.

The ASHLEY consortium grouped 36 partners from 10 EU Member States and also from Russia, Norway and Switzerland.


Project Results:
--Ventilation and High Lift Demonstrator--
Novel avionics Distributed Modular Electronics resources
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 4-5 novel Distributed Modular Electronics remote resources solutions for Secondary Power Distribution and Time and Safety Criticality aircraft systems.
The project also demonstrated at TRL 4 a Power Line Communication solution integrated with the secondary power distribution.
The following novel avionics DME resources were demonstrated in ASHLEY:
• Remote Control Electronics as a new resource to DME platform enlarging future IMA2G perimeter by enabling to host also highly flight safety critical functions with typical closed loop type applications, e.g. systems like High Lift or Ventilation Control.
• Remote Power Controller containing capabilities to handle data and provide input / output interfaces as well as switching and distributing high power. Through expanding the DME platform resources to high power switching capabilities, the usage of a potential IMA2G can be enlarged to secondary power distribution functionalities.
• Power Line Communication, in combination with Solid State Power Controller switching capabilities, is a very interesting data communication mean for future secondary power distribution and related functions and systems.

Use of novel avionics Distributed Modular Electronics resources for Ventilation and High Lift functions
There are driving requirements from systems for fast response time and the high volume from the high number of interfaces.
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 4-5 the time critical high speed functions of the High Lift system and the I/O intensive functions of the Ventilation Control System in an architecture with old and new IMA equipment and system equipment relevant for an A/C architecture: Core Processing Module, Remote Control Electronics and Remote Power Controller.
ASHLEY demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed architecture with the following representative elements:
• Ventilation system
• High Lift system
• new Remote Control Electronics equipment
• Power distribution via new Remote Power Controller equipment
• Data over Power Communication.

--Fuel Demonstrator--
Smart sensors and Photonics solutions for Avionics Systems
The ASHLEY project developed and demonstrated at TRL 4-5 smart interfaces to sensors and actuators in order to increase the performances of some avionics systems. The main goal was to create a universal platform for Smart Component (Actuator/Sensor) supporting SATI and AFDX, and to demonstrate it on several controllers such as fuel valve, pump, wheel Remote Data Concentrator.
The project also developed, enhanced and integrated components based on photonic technologies. The scope of ASHLEY was to take technologies developed in other projects, and integrate them into the IMA2G environment with a sufficient level of maturity for evaluation in an aircraft system environment.
Two principal elements, Passive Sensing and Power by Light, both required their respective Interrogator solutions.
• Passive Sensing, implemented in a blade installed within the Remote Data and Power Cabinet.
• Power by Light, with 2 components: a Wing Data (probe) Concentrator providing the optical power and receiving the data from the sensors, and the blade receiving the optical data and converting it to the electrical medium in AFDX format.

Use of Smart Components and Photonics technologies in the Fuel System
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 3-5 smart optical technologies in a fuel system demonstrator on real fuel conditions and through distributed IMA architecture.
The project demonstrated the following novelties in an aircraft system environment:
• Passive sensing technologies
• Smart components as platform resource
• Power by light technology
• Integrated fuel system solution.
The fuel systems demonstrator encompassed both fuel measurement and fuel management aspects.
The fuel measurement system focused on technology feasibility demonstration of optical sensors and connections in a real fuel environment:
• Static fuel gauging and set levels – comparing gauging system output to fuel flow into tank from empty to full
• Dynamic fuel gauging – rapid changes in fuel level to observe gauging system response
• Fuel temperature cycling – changing fuel temperature akin to typical flight to observe gauging system response.
The fuel management system demonstrated smart components controlled directly through the aircraft network:
• Pump control via µAFDX – commanding pump output from DME via AFDX network and observing response by measuring fuel flow rate
• Valve control via µAFDX – commanding valve position from DME via AFDX network and observing response by measuring fuel flow rate.
The project also demonstrated a closed loop system with the two systems working side by side:
• Fuel flow control until tank is full,
• Controlling fuel flow into tank to maintain fuel level while extracting fuel from the same tank.

--Landing Gear Demonstration--
Use of Smart Components in the Landing Gear System
The ASHLEY project demonstrated the feasibility of running ALL the aircraft-level braking system functions on a Core Processing & Input/Output Module. This provides a more flexible, functional implementation of the system. It also creates a clear distinction between the domains of the airframe manufacturer and the system supplier, allowing the former to implement optimised functions for aircraft control and the latter to define a fully optimised method for the control of the braking system.
The ASHLEY Landing Gear demonstrator comprised components of an electric braking system (one brake with four electro-mechanical actuators, one controller for actuation control and a wheel Remote Data Concentrator that gathers data e.g. wheel speed and performs the antiskid function).
There is also a Core Processing & Input/Output Module that executes the commands coming from the cockpit – e.g. pedal deflection, autobrake (e.g. procedure for automatically achieving the required deceleration rate) switch and runs the high-level aircraft control functions.
The project demonstrated the following at TRL 4 in a Distributed Modular Electronics environment:
• Braking System
- Braking system architecture with smart Wheel Remote Data Concentrator and smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator
- Electric braking connectivity to Distributed Modular Avionics
- Remote data loading of smart components
• Landing Gear Integration:
- Brake-To-Vacate mode (i.e aircraft acceleration controlled by the Braking System against an acceleration demand sent by the flight control computers)
- Automatic Differential Braking function that applies differential braking to the LH and RH Main Landing Gears to steer the aircraft on the ground. The differential braking was performed automatically based on tiller orders without the pilot having to manually apply differential pedal braking.

--Mission Management Demonstrator--
Use of novel Data Distribution Service with Flight Warning function
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 4 the storing by avionic applications of messages in a database hosted on the open world side, and their abilities to manage these messages (retrieve and delete data) through the appropriate data security gateways.
AIRBUS ported a real Flight Warning application over a new generation of High Performance Core Processing Module based on a multicore CPU chip.
They also integrated a new generation of Avionics Data Base Server(s) with the appropriate level of performance and fault tolerance on an Open World Module, and remotely accessed it through a Secure Gateway Module.

--Open World / Operator Domain Demonstrator--
Novel solutions for Open World / Operator Domain
The ASHLEY project extended the Distributed Electronics concept over the Operator Domain for large aircrafts, regional aircraft and business jets. The term “Operator Domain”, also referred to as “Open World”, means a specific domain out of the Avionics World (highly critical).
ASHLEY demonstrated at TRL 4:
• An Open World Server solution supporting multi operating systems and applications hosting;
• A secured solution for communication (avionics, open world, bidirectional wireless with the ground);
• Data base services for Open World server / Operator domain;
• Applications for open world / operator domain, especially for maintenance purposes (data acquisition for analysis, data loading of avionics and configuration system).

Use of the Distributed Modular Electronics for the business aircraft
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 4 that the use of Distributed Modular Electronics in business aircraft allowed:
• Improving business aircraft connectivity;
• Improving data security robustness and having the capability of secured data exchanges within functional domains;
• Improving efficiency of application development tools, adapted to each functional domain of the Distributed Modular Electronics platform;
• Improving architecture flexibility and optimizing I/O resource integration through the modular concept of IMA2G with the separation of I/O and Core Processing resources.

--Data Base Service Demonstrator--
Data Exchange Service compliant with avionics constraints
The ASHLEY project developed and demonstrated at TRL 5 an Avionics Data Exchange Service optimizing the management of databases and the exchanges of data on the avionics side.
The Avionics Data Exchange Service addresses the needs of either the Aircraft Control Domain or the Open Service Domain, for either Reference data (static databases) or data evolving during the flight (i.e. aircraft trajectories).
ASHLEY demonstrated avionics applications (Flight Management System, Airport Operation Function) and the Avionics Data Exchange Service with the appropriate level of performance, safety, data integrity, fault tolerance.

--ASHLEY Toolchain--
Novel system designer oriented IMA2G tooling solution
The ASHLEY project developed and demonstrated at TRL 5 a system designer oriented IMA2G tools solution addressing compliance to IMA2G industrial certification constraints. The innovation achieved by the framework is supported by advanced processes, methods and tools, which have been validated by a representative aircraft demonstrator.
The ASHLEY toolchain supports the system designer steps from the system requirement specification and the definition of the avionic functions to the generation, simulation, testing and loading of the software and configuration artefacts.
For that end, the framework is composed of a large set of tools integrated into the ASHLEY tool framework (ATF). The ATF role is to coordinate the processes realized through the execution of the toolchain by bridging the communication between the tools and managing all the artefacts produced. The ASHLEY tool framework uses a network link which allows the tools to be run on different sites.
The framework comprises the tools realizing the processes that lead to the definition of the configuration of Core Processing & Input / Output Modules (CPIOM), Remote Power Controller (RPC) and Remote Control Electronics (RCE). The overall outputs of the ASHLEY framework are the system software binary files and their associated configuration tables. Both are used to generate the loads for the modules.
A Seamless Tool Chain means changing paper based process to file/electronic based process. It accelerates the design process and increases the maturity of the applications and configuration tables.
The implemented tool chain works on several levels of the development: first on the level of requirements capture and subsequent definition of the architecture, and second on the level of configuration definition and load production.
The ASHLEY tool chain provides a common visual interface to all suppliers which are delivering software to an integrated module. The suppliers work independently on their logical functions in parallel in their usage domain. The integrator is able to make the allocation of all functions as a whole by running the Optimization and Early Validation tools. They give him the information about possible conflicts within the module and give fast response on corrective actions to the suppliers. This correction loop is able to run informally very quickly and multiple times as it is an automatic data exchange. It thus increases the maturity of the solution in a shorter time.
The time slices and the compatibility to the module usage are checked by the tool for compatibility towards the module constraints and validated by simulation. The advantage is also that this tool is independent of the finally used module and it can be used for modules from different suppliers, e.g. for CPIOM or RPC and RCE. It allows therefore a detailed view and validation on the configuration data at aircraft, not only on module level. It can be augmented for future modules with new features, which don’t exist today. Also the interface to the load production tools which are different for each supplier is file based and can be iterated quickly.
Thus the seamless tool chain also improves the avionics platform maturity within a reduced development time thanks to fast controlled paperless exchanges of data, parallelisation of activities and fast iterations.

--Large Scale Demonstrator—
The ASHLEY project demonstrated at TRL 4 that several aircraft demonstrators could be interconnected to simulate a more integrated aircraft application. This is very valuable in the Open World Domain, typically for centralized maintenance and dataloading / configuration checking.
With the ASHLEY trans-demonstrators demonstration, AIRBUS and their suppliers demonstrated that a dataloader station in Toulouse could upload at least an avionics equipment in Filton (namely the Remote Data and Power Cabinet) and another one in Hamburg (namely the Remote Control Electronics). This station also provided the capability to check that the uploaded configuration of these elements was the expected one (configuration checking).

--Advanced Studies--
Advanced study: Future trends in IMA2G architecture, miniaturization and functional scaling
This advanced study investigated the scalability of IMA2G with respect to CMOS technology scaling of electronic devices, widely known as Moore’s law. Background and current trends of CMOS technology scaling were analysed with coupling to related reliability challenges. This study also reviewed recent papers and literature with focus on the limited-life semiconductor issue (ageing) and the increased susceptibility to atmospheric radiation.

Advanced study: Current and future navigational tasks can be integrated at a deeper level in IMA2G
This advanced study investigated how the software-centric part of the navigation system may benefit from IMA2G.

Advanced study: Future cockpit display systems
This advanced study investigated how cockpit display systems could use IMA components or at least modular components which can be used several times within the system.

Advanced study: Power line communication
This advanced study investigated the possibility of using existing aircraft wiring as a data transmission channel by means of simulation of the predicted performance of Power Line Communications, knowing that for the most part, aircraft power distribution networks employ a single cable resulting in a hostile channel which is far from ideal for Power Line Communications applications.

Advanced study: Implementation of electronics for harsh environments
This advanced study investigated the possibility to extend the IMA concept beyond the pressurized part of the fuselage into remote unpressurized areas, e.g. the wings and landing gear, exposing the device for external temperature and vibration palettes straining device robustness in a different manner. The purpose is to replace existing solutions, found in e.g. wings and landing gear areas, to lower volume, weight and power consumption.

Advanced study: Real-time publish-subscribe data distribution service
This advanced study elaborated transportation mechanisms on a reliable deterministic network including security aspects taking into account ARINC653 scheduling mechanisms.

Advanced study: Single core and multicore processors in IMA2G for safety critical applications
This advanced study was to gain a deeper understanding of multi-core processors and their impact on important aspects of certification of future systems with multi-core processors. The goal is to use multi-core processors in safety critical avionic applications based on the IMA2G architecture.

Advanced study: Tailored software development process for ASHLEY
This advanced study described and recommended a tailored software development process for ASHLEY. The goal was to survey, investigate and systematize specific needs and constraints for the software development process, and to produce guidelines on activities, methods and techniques building on state-of-the-art knowledge on modern software development of complex software systems. The recommended process was expected to be aligned with relevant industry standards for safety critical software systems.

Advanced study: Integration of ATA specific and remote components into IMA2G tool architecture
This advanced study investigated the impact on the toolset where ATA Specific and Remote Components were deployed.

Advanced study: Architecture scaling and Conceptual integration
This advanced study investigated IMA scalability, concentrating on IMA modules possible to instantiate in aircrafts of different scale (e.g. large commercial aircraft, business jets, or small UAV’s). It also investigated scalability in functionality and required computational needs at IMA architecture level. It finally listed the potential improvements of each IMA 2G advanced study and their impact on IMA design, process (IMA development) and their impact on IMA architecture and certification.

Advanced study: IMA System Architecture Simulator
This advanced study developed an infrastructure offering the possibility to simulate the behaviour of a networked IMA system using target binaries of OS and applications as stimuli providers for a network model. It was expected to take benefit from multicore servers in order to accelerate simulation.

Advanced study: Dynamic program analysis techniques (Java platform)
This study advanced the state-of-the-art in the area of dynamic program analysis for managed languages that rely on a virtual execution environment such as the Java Virtual Machine or Android’s Dalvik Virtual Machine. Before ASHLEY, the creation of customized dynamic analysis tools was unduly difficult, time consuming, and error-prone. ASHLEY goal was to develop a dynamic program analysis framework allowing the creation of reliable and efficient dynamic analyses in a straight-forward way.

Advanced study: Multicore interferences characterisation + Remote Processing Performance characterization
Within the IMA2G context and especially when using multicore processing solutions, the function provider needs to get a certificate of its function for a wider usage domain than it was expected previously by using single core solutions.
This advanced study first analysed and provided new methods and tools and secondly performed remote processing evaluation using representative models.

Advanced study: Modelling of air system control impact for latency
An electrical Environmental Conditioning System (eECS) was developed in the CleanSky SGO research program. It could be a system for a future aircraft, but it has more dynamics constraints compared to old technologies.
This study advanced carried out in ASHLEY had two objectives:
• To integrate the eECS SGO architecture into IMA2G architecture;
• To simulate eECS with latencies induced by IMA2G architecture to see if IMA2G answers to dynamics needs for system control.

Advanced study: Means of employing powerline communications on the ASHLEY demonstrator
The Power Line Communication technology is applicable in a future architecture (IMA3G) where some data concentrators would be designed to power sensors/actuators. This technology could then simplify systems architecture by gathering data and power on a same link.
There are two different approaches depending on the power distribution architecture: some sensors are currently powered with a single cable; others are powered via two cables.
This advanced study intended to cover both aspects and to provide some input of the feasibility of such architectures gathering data and power from a data concentrator.

Advanced study: Modelling of navigation and flight management functions for performance assessment
This advanced study investigated the proposed multi-partition architecture for the navigation subsystem of the Flight Management System.


Potential Impact:
The strong research focus of ASHLEY research activities, using a unique multidisciplinary team, contributed to strengthen the technological and scientific background of Europe. As such, ASHLEY did not only contribute to create an image of Europe as a producer of advanced technological results, but also created the leverage for future research works.

ASHLEY was a valuable asset on the IMA2G path to address future aircraft program.

Novel avionics Distributed Modular Electronics resources
The Remote Control Electronics (RCE) and Remote Power Controller (RPC) innovations developed in ASHLEY allow the extension of the IMA platform in future aircraft hosting additional functions and allow hosting even safety and time critical function. This reduces the number of different components and therefore reduces the complexity of systems at aircraft level. New functions can benefit from the IMA technology with its highly configurable design and incremental certification approach. As the RCE and RPC adopt the principles of segregation and configurability, they can be used in multi system architectures and can apply the established IMA principles. This makes these new components an enabler to extend the IMA scope above the actual scope further to flight critical and power systems. It allows synergies between these systems.
Furthermore, the new IMA module - RCE with dual lane - was developed in ASHLEY in a two years’ time frame (including support). It was shown that with limited changes (which might be quite acceptable due to the high maturity of IMA today), the development time of new IMA components could be reduced drastically.

Power Line Communication
The introduction of a dedicated avionics power line communications solution allows the use of the power distribution system for both power and data thus opening the door for a reduction in weight, volume and complexity of the aircraft wiring along with reduced installation and maintenance costs
The Power Line Communications (PLC) demonstrated in ASHLEY enables to transmit up to 20 Mbit/sec without any loss of data. It is easily extendable towards 50Mbit/sec and probably to even higher rates. With PLC, a significant reduction in weight, volume, complexity and installation/maintenance effort can be achieved. The technology shows a high potential to be used for a number of systems throughout the aircraft.
The PLC presents various advantages: it allows reducing the wiring weight, volume and complexity. It will also reduce the installation and maintenance effort. It also allows for higher data rates than traditional avionics data buses (except AFDX).

Electrically driven Flap system
As far as the High Lift system is concerned, an electrically powered drive system (ePCU) was demonstrated IN ASHLEY in place of the traditional hydraulic PCU. The ePCU used in ASHLEY is an improvement compared to the in-service technology; it meets more demanding requirements considering power and redundancy. It is designed to eliminate hydraulics and facilitate fully electric High Lift system operation. The architecture is very promising within new aircraft concepts with less hydraulic and more electric power generation.
The integration of ePCU in the architecture proposed in ASHLEY can be used in new commercial aircraft using IMA architecture and should show significant improvements. The tight timing constraints posed by a High Lift System have been shown in the ASHLEY project to be met using the IMA architecture and the integrated Saab ePCU, which was one of the focus objectives of the High Lift Demonstrator.

Photonics solutions
The introduction of the new passive optical technology requiring no power supply, and the use of Power-by-Light (i.e. optical powering of components over fiber using a laser as power source and a photovoltaic cell as optical-to-electrical converter) is considered as a real step beyond with the following main advantages: reducing weight at aircraft level, installation simplification (through increase in routing options), higher MTBF, safe behaviour in flammable environment.
The power-by-light and passive photonics sensing solutions developed within ASHLEY are considered strong candidate technologies for the next generation avionic systems.
Photonics sensors can be deployed to measure most parameters needed today. The versatile nature of the interrogator provides flexibility. The installation can be simplified (fewer constraints). Power by light offers new opportunities for fuel gauging (removal of specific intrinsic safety barrier).
The major benefits power-by-light and passive photonics sensing solutions could deliver are as follows:
• Simplifying compliance to Intrinsic Safety regulations in Fuel Tanks
• Harvesting benefits of photonics technologies (reduced sensitivity to EMI, reduced weight and dimensions, sensor multiplexing)
• Reducing I/O types by using “universal” optical interrogator.

Smart interfaces to sensors and actuators
The implementation of the smart components is considered as a real innovation. Indeed, this association of processing intelligence and network connection on a sensor or actuator will have a significant impact at the aircraft level (improvement of maintenance diagnostics failure analysis, optimisation of aircraft wiring, simplification of maintenance operations...).
The use of smart actuators on the future aircraft will enhance control and monitoring capabilities. It will also simplify and standardise interfaces and enable distributed avionics.
The solutions developed in ASHLEY permit the attachment of components from multiple suppliers without the need for bespoke interfaces. This allows many more architectures to be developed, additional components to be added (without complex harness/wiring modifications), and new functions/upgrades to be added with very little impact on the aircraft installation (depending on topics such as data-rate and integrity/safety demands). With smart interfaces, supplier sensors and actuators can be more portable (between suitable platforms), and can be developed without access to the full platform. In addition, multiple sources may be available for the same purpose. This also allows the implementation of very specific I/O types, or rarely used interfaces to be implemented in a standard way, maximising the flexibility and use of standard parts on a platform.

New DME component for Open World domain
In ASHLEY, various new IMA components extended the DME concept over the Open World and Cabin aircraft domains for large aircrafts, regional aircrafts and business jet: Open World Server, secured solution for communication, Data base services for Open World server / Operator domain, Applications for open world / operator domain. They proved their very high potential to optimise system architectures on future aircrafts and even for updates of existing aircraft which will also benefit from the IMA concept.
In particular, the database service hosted on the Open World side and accessible from the avionics side (ACD domain) through the relevant security measures is a key enabler for more flexibility in cockpit system design and architecture, enabling to communalize the storage of data into a central repository and share data more efficiently.
The use of Distributed Modular Electronics in business aircraft allows improving business aircraft connectivity, data security robustness, efficiency of application development tools, architecture flexibility and optimisation of I/O resource integration.
Most of the results achieved with the ASHLEY project are going to be directly used for the ongoing new design of aircraft systems.

Avionics Data Exchange Service
The Avionics Data Exchange Service developed and demonstrated in the ASHLEY project allows optimizing the management of databases and the exchanges of data on the avionics side. In ASHLEY, it proved its very high potential for future generation of aircraft.
The Avionics Data Exchange Service was designed for an easy integration into client applications. It runs on CPIOM over an A664 network, and allows for high-performance, secured data exchanges not only between avionics functions in the Aircraft Control Domain (ACD), but also with the Open Service Domain (OSD).
The service is intended to distribute both static and dynamic data to multiple clients in distributed avionics architecture. It is expected to increase both cross-functions and cross-domains interoperability. It is also intended to avoid the duplication of data, need for a large amount of memory areas, multiplication of physical databases and related complex maintenance operations to update these databases.

Integrated tool chain
The concept of integrated tool chain – the ATF - proved in ASHLEY to be beneficial for future development. It offers the potential to improve the tools as standalone tools or to add additional tools with further capabilities, e.g. for validation of the architecture. The tool chain will have an economic advantage due to the reduction of documentation and due to the fast exchange of data between system designers and integrator.
Some of the benefits of the integrated tool chain are as follows:
- System designers can enter their data into the same data base,
- Work which was done before manually will be done automatically,
- Data from one step to the other are synchronized and traced,
- Documents will be produced automatically from the same data base,
- Tool chain can be extended by using existing change formats,
- Each tool can be further developed without impacting the others.

Large Scale integration
During ASHLEY, the demonstrators of the Airbus sites were connected together in order to have an A/C level demonstrator. This allows to build up an aircraft representative system prior to the real aircraft ground tests. It worked very efficiently and with only small adaptions. Such a process could be also beneficial in future programs by connecting local test benches of suppliers together with Airbus Iron Bird by fast data links.
This approach presents various objectives: the tests done at large scale get more credit because more components are real (→ more representative). This concept can be applied also between Airbus and suppliers. In a first step, Airbus could use simplified high level simulation models for their testing and for detailed verification connect the supplier test benches. This way, it would allow a functional validation prior to A/C integration with small additional effort.

Dissemination of the results
The outcomes of the EEAG meetings were considered very valuable for the developments in the ASHLEY Project.
Furthermore, the outcomes of the EASA meetings showed no showstoppers for a possible certification of the presented technologies.
In terms of standardisation, a key outcome was the introduction of the photonic sensors into a Weights & Balance EUROCAE WG88, with potential safety benefits without the constraints of previous solutions.



List of Websites:
http://www.ashleyproject.eu

Reported by

THALES AVS FRANCE SAS
France

Subjects

Transport
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