Despite an oil crisis that had European truckers on strike and European motorists standing in line (a la the early 1970s in the United States), the avionics industry gathered in the land of Airbus on Sept. 12-14, for the first semi-annual International Avionics Exhibition, in Toulouse, France. More than 800 attendees entered the Parc des Expositions de Toulouse to view the wares of some 100 exhibitors from 11 countries.
The next International Avionics Exhibition, organized by PGI-Spearhead Ltd., New Malden, Surrey, UK, (see www.spearhead.co.uk) will also be held in Toulouse. It is slated for Sept. 24-26, 2002.
In concert with this year’s exhibition was Avionics Magazine’s Workshop Series, sponsored by Thomson-CSF Sextant. It featured presentations from industry experts. The following is a rundown of the presentation topics and their presenters:
Thomson-CSF Sextant briefed attendees on integrated modular avionics (IMA), which is a set of processing systems that are interconnected through an adapted data communication network and able to host various avionics functions. The manufacturer also talked of a cockpit display system (CDS) that, like the IMA, shares standardized resources. It listed four benefits to the IMA and CDS concepts: lower development and integration costs (thanks to strong commonality), lower weight and volume (thanks to integration), lower maintenance costs (thanks to the reduced number of module types), and lower evolution costs through modularity at both the hardware and software levels. See www.sextant.thomson-csf.com.
Outsourcing Mod Work
Ray Felk of ECS Integrated Solutions listed four trends in airline engineering departments: departments broken off into separate profit centers, more aircraft flying hours, the difficulty of finding qualified engineers, and more time spent on "production issues." He provided suggestions on how to outsource modification work, covering workload, regulatory mandates, and the criteria for selecting an outside source for avionics modifications. See www.ecsdirect.com.
Filters and Filter Testing
Mike Evans of PCF Designs Ltd. told of the myths associated with filters for electronic connectors. He said that, despite popular belief, filters do fail, do degrade, and don’t have similar performance. Most people, including filter-pin, connector, LRU and aircraft manufacturers, don’t test filters. He demonstrated testing with the TE6596 filter tester. See www.bcfdesigns.co.uk.
Business at the Speed of Flight
Pentar Avionics’ Bob Rodgers talked about executives conducting business in their corporate jets, using the Internet, e-mail, file sharing among passengers, in-flight presentations, printer and fax. All of this is on top of the televised games, sports, news and stock reports. Rodgers describes the considerations aircraft owners should make when installing a cabin file server, a LAN network, and a data link to the ground. See www.pentar.com.
Effective Use of Virtual Training
David Hendon, of UK-based MUSE Virtual Presence Ltd. told workshop attendees of the development and benefits of computerized training using virtual reality (see story on page 21). He pointed to the training program developed for maintenance personnel who work on the British Royal Air Force’s Tornado. Students can learn at a triple-screen workstation or with video goggles. Learning can be ongoing; it doesn’t rely on using hardware. See www.vrweb.com.
Sim/Test of Com Bus
Anton Hartl of Tech S.A.T. GmbH discussed the Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) bus testing and evaluation for Airbus’s planned A3XX. It is, he claims, the first commercial-off-the-shelf AFDX implementation. Two systems have been delivered, to EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.–which includes Airbus) and to BAE Systems, and their implementation for the VxWorks host environment was to be completed last month. See www.techsat.com.
Air Data Test Under RVSM Specs
Joseph Galliker of Nav-Aids Ltd., talked of the high performance standards set for testing static systems for aircraft operating in a reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) environment. RVSM requires stringent air data system testing, and Galliker demonstrated how those requirements can best be met with equipment especially made for pitot tube and static port connections. See www.total.net/navaids.
Advanced Electronics for GA
Becker Avionics featured its PrimeLine array of avionics, geared primarily for small aircraft and helicopters. Discussed was the "glass cockpit solution," a modular system that includes sensors, displays, control units, interfaces and processing, all of which can fit into small aircraft cockpits. Becker also has developed pilot training simulation with 3-dimensional visuals. See www.becker-avionics.com.
Aircraft Loadable Software
Qualtair Inc.’s William McRae explained to attendees that, for airlines, traditional configuration management systems were set up for hardware, not software. He listed the problems associated with using floppy disks. The solution, he concluded, is aircraft loadable software that can be stored on a secure server maintained by the airline and can be remotely accessed. See www.qualtair.com.
IEEE-1394 in Application
Christophe Brayet of Mindready Solutions Inc. provided an overview of the IEEE-1394 serial bus, also called FireWire, which is designed for real-time image transfer, mass storage support, and to unload communications on parallel buses such as PCI and VME. Unlike other interfaces, 1394 is designed to be a global interconnect, said Brayet. This will allow input/output (I/O) port integration and board space consolidation. See www.mindready.com.
GPS: Impact on Search, Rescue
Andrew Dawson of the HR Smith Group of Companies talked of conducting air rescues with pinpoint accuracy with GPS coordinates that use the SARSAT low Earth orbit (LEO) geostationary satellites, which operate only on 406 MHz. This combination can, said Dawson, provide immediate detection time of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) and accuracy down to 33 feet (10 meters).
Exploiting Advantages of Data
Miriad Technologies’ Christian Renault told how, with specialized software, real-time or recorded high-rate sensor signals can be self calibrated to detect anomalies for output to generate reports and information for data bases. See www.miriadtech.com.