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SCAlable and ReconfigurabLe Electronics plaTforms and Tools

Tags: Air

State of the Art - Background

Early avionics solutions, which were based on federated architecture, used dedicated bespoke hardware and software to implement any aircraft function. As the number of functions being transferred to avionics increased, the federated architecture grew in size and complexity.

An aircraft of the 1980s contained a large number of 'black boxes' of dissimilar sizes and technologies. The aerospace community then turned to the Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) concept. This concept replaces the numerous separate and dissimilar 'black boxes' with fewer, common processing modules.

The first generation of Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA1G) has been a successful step away from the federated architectures. However, additional socio-economic and market drivers have emerged since the implementation of IMA1G, forcing the industry to take a further significant step beyond the current IMA capability:

- a higher rate of new aircraft programmes will be launched with increasing frequency;

- reduced operating costs for the airlines, and a consequent reduction in passengers' fares. This in turn implies a reduction of costs, weight and volume of the avionics;

- reduced lead time for entry into service;

- full time availability - which impacts both the operating costs of the airlines and the comfort to passengers. The required aircraft operational availability is now reaching 100%.


The key innovations of the IMA2G Distributed Modular Electronics (DME) concept researched by SCARLETT cover a broad scope of items, from architecture, hardware, software (including middleware), up to tools and processes. They are:

- a decentralised and distributed avionics architecture aimed at the fully digitised aircraft, using separate scalable modules for application processing and input/output (I/O) functions, standardised hardware, communications and application interfaces that can support all aircraft functions;

- the introduction of middleware services in order to provide the applications with a higher level of abstraction from the underlying resources, enabling smarter configuration and alleviated development effort;

- a new design methodology that readily supports the evolution of onboard electronics, enabling adaptations and upgrades according to market needs;

- common processes, methods and toolsets, enabling system integrators and application suppliers to reduce the development cycle and improve the development's effectiveness;

- new decentralised health monitoring to provide 100% detection of electronics failure;

- avionics solutions providing the highest level of availability, with reconfiguration capabilities to support fault tolerance. This will minimise the number of spare resources required while maintaining the highest dispatch rate.

Description of Work

The consortium has adopted an approach starting from the consolidation of requirements, followed by the definition of specifications, leading to development, then integration, verification, test and validation.

Four different capability demonstrators for the DME solutions, all built with the same types of components, are foreseen. These four demonstration platforms are:

- the 'High Performances Data Distribution' demonstrator, addressing high data flow performances - typically for cockpit display applications;

- the 'I/O Intensive' demonstrator, demonstrating the DME concept for an I/O intensive application - typically fire/smoke detection or ventilation control;

- the 'Time Critical' demonstrator, demonstrating the DME concept for a highly safety-critical application with hard real-time constraint - typically flight controls or anti-skid braking;

- the 'Reconfiguration and Maintenance' demonstrator addressing the reconfiguration capabilities.

These four demonstrators are supported by an innovative approach in terms of:

- the smooth use of the set of IMA dedicated/required tools, thus creating an overall module-independent tool chain, to ensure a reduced lead time to the aircraft's entry into service;

- the definition of platform services (or IMA-dedicated middleware) to provide function suppliers with a better/faster software development environment.

Expected Results

The major deliverables of the project are:

- a set of hardware and software components representative of the future IMA2G platform basic building blocks;

- the four different capability demonstrators presented above, all based on the same DME building blocks so as to verify that each targeting functional domain can cope with solutions envisaged in the frame of the IMA 2G;

- the tool chain that sets the sound foundations for both data management consistency and productivity enhancement, which will cover all the embedded avionics actors' activities in an IMA2G-based solution.

SCARLETT also intends to demonstrate the concepts of reconfiguration solutions in civil avionics.