Embedded Avionics, Military

FACE Developing Conformance Standards for Open Military Avionics Environment

By Woodrow Bellamy III | October 10, 2013
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The FACE Consortium is developing an automated method for ensuring that new military avionics systems software complies with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) technical standard, designed to lower the cost of supporting the portability and reuse of software components across Department of Defense (DoD) aviation systems. 
(Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Frank Medina of San Antonio, Texas, communicates with the cockpit of a C-130T Hercules assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Five Three, VR53, during an engine run. The C-130T will be one of the first military aircraft to receive avionics upgrades compliant with the FACE technical standard. Photo, courtesy of NAVAIR.)
Established in 2010 as a government-industry team working towards creating an open modular avionics environment for military platforms, the FACE Consortium released Edition 1.0 of the FACE technical standard in 2012 with a focus on segmented reference architecture with standardized Application Interfaces (APIs) at each interface layer. That was followed by Edition 2.0 in February 2013 which focused on defining common language requirements for the standard. 
Now, with Edition 3.0 planned for release in mid-2014, the team is focused on developing a process to verify conformance to current and future editions of the FACE technical standard. 
“The FACE Consortium is in the process of formalizing the FACE Conformance Program, which includes both Conformance Verification and Conformance Certification. The Conformance Verification process has been designed to verify conformance to the FACE Technical Standard as per the Conformance Verification Matrix (CVM),” said Judy Cerenzia, director of collaboration services with the Open Group, which manages the FACE consortium. 
The consortium consists of 39 different member organizations, including some of the biggest military avionics developers in the world, such as Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. 
Traditionally, military aircraft avionics systems developers have relied on the use of tightly coupled individual systems with unique interfaces. The Open Group has managed to create an acquisition-neutral setting where manufacturers have direct access to DoD units, allowing them to work together to produce open standards that influence procurement and policy. 
The standard has been broken down into three key interfaces, the operating system, input/output (I/O) interface and the transport interface. 
The standard will be important going forward, as legacy U.S. military aircraft continue to receive upgrades rather than replacements with next generation aircraft. In September, the U.S. Navy announced the mission computers for its fleet of AV-8B Harrier ground attack jets and C-130T transport aircraft would be receiving upgrades compliant with the FACE standard. 

“There is not a specific development process or toolset required to develop FACE conformant software,” Cerenzia said. “Rather the FACE Conformance Test suite and processes have been designed for ease of integration into existing processes. Our academia partners have also developed a Software Development Toolkit/Integrator development Toolkit to overcome a barrier of entry for smaller business that may not have a defined ecosystem in place.” 

Related: Military Avionics News

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