The need for electronics on-board
long- and medium-range airliners has grown significantly in recent years.
Given the increasingly congested conditions at airports and in our skies,
airline crews require navigation, control and communication resources
that are both more deeply integrated and more technologically sophisticated.
At the same time, airlines are seeking to enhance the in-flight services
available to passengers, implementing computer-based solutions at every
On-board Information Systems (OIS) are now essential
equipment on all transport aircraft, playing a critical role in aircraft
safety and efficiency. Systems and equipment, including OIS, represent
more than 30% of civil aircraft development costs and are a major element
in the aircraft development cycle. Systems also serve to differentiate
the US and European aircraft manufacturing industries. While Europe has
always been a dominant player in this field, the introduction of the Boeing
777 and subsequent versions of the B737 raised the level of competition.
Now industrial players on both sides of the Atlantic are looking to set
new winning international standards.
||Being the best
in aircraft electronics
Being the best has
become an important goal for the European aeronautics industry,
and a test of its ability to work collaboratively. The VICTORIA
project is a prime example. Launched in January 2001, VICTORIA's
main objective is to design, prepare and validate a new system that
would integrate all on-board functions for commercial airliners,
including both flight and passenger management systems.
According to Joseph Huysseune, Director of Advanced
Studies at Thales Avionics and VICTORIA Project Manager, the concept
of Integrated Modular Electronics (IME), is key. IME means that
individual hardware and software modules can be removed and replaced
interchangeably. "VICTORIA builds on the work accomplished
in the NEVADA
projects," says Huysseune. "Under those projects the feasibility
of IME was established and appropriate technologies were selected.
But VICTORIA is unique in both its size and scope, bringing together
no less than 33 partners, including a variety of companies, R&D
centres and universities from ten European countries."
VICTORIA will prototype an overall cabin,
cockpit and utilities system as well as an on-board information
system, including passenger and crew electronics services, establishing
new open standards for on-board electronics in all of these areas.
||A range of virtual
services for passengers
Capitalising on the
results of the European ANAIS
project, VICTORIA will also define an In-Flight Cabin System (IFCS)
standard, comprising a set of virtual services for a variety of
aircraft configurations. These services would include e-business,
airline information, audio/video-on-demand, internet and phone access,
all provided at the passenger's seat.
"VICTORIA will culminate," says Huysseune,
"with the setting up of an experimental validation platform,
bringing together all the newly developed hardware and software
The main day-to-day beneficiaries of the
resulting improvements will be the passengers, who will enjoy an
enhanced, safer and more economical flying experience. At the industrial
level, for Europe's Aerospace community, the deployment of a completely
new OIS architecture will mean far-reaching changes in the way suppliers
work, and in the sharing of tasks and roles across the supply chain.
The development of intelligent and flexible
manufacturing methodologies and the exploitation of advanced materials
are among the main priorities for the Growth Programme's key action
in New Perspectives in Aeronautics.
: Validation platform for integration of standardised components,
technologies and tools in an open, modular and improved aircraft
NEVADA : New avionic/electronic evaluation and
demonstration on aircraft;
PAMELA : Prospective analysis of modular electronic
integration in airborne systems;
ANAIS : Advanced network architecture for in-flight
cabin systems (future aircraft optimised cabin systems).