Embedded Avionics

Teradyne VP Speaks to the Expanding Databus Testing Market

By Juliet Van Wagenen | September 24, 2015
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John Wood, vice president and general manager of degense and aerospace at Teradyne
John Wood, vice president and general manager of defense and aerospace at Teradyne. Photo: Linkedin

[Avionics Today 09-17-2015] Late last year Massachusetts-based Teradyne, developer and supplier of Automatic Test Equipment (ATE), made a move to acquire databus testing company Avionics Interface Technologies (AIT). The company now offers testing solutions for both the commercial aerospace and defense industries, including MIL-STD-1553A/B, MIL-STD-1760E, FC, ARINC 429, ARINC 615, ARINC 615A and ARINC 664p7. 

Avionics Magazine caught up with John Wood, vice president and general manager of defense and aerospace at Teradyne, to see how the acquisition has expanded the company’s avionics databus testing capabilities and plans to support next generation platforms.
Avionics Magazine: How has the acquisition of Avionics Interface Technologies allowed Teradyne to provide complete test solutions for modern avionics systems?
Wood: The acquisition combines AIT avionics expertise and instrumentation with Teradyne solutions for test systems. AIT directly targets designs using emerging avionics bus technologies, such as Fibre Channel (FC), MIL-STD-1760, and ARINC 664/AFDX. 
Avionics Magazine: As the digital architecture for aircraft avionics configuration continues to evolve, what types of new databus testing applications have become more commonplace during systems integration? 
Wood: In general, on both the commercial aerospace and military aerospace side, the avionics buses are shifting from legacy data buses, such as MIL-STD-1553, to more modern networked architectures, such as Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) Ethernet and FC networks. As a result, the design effort must include a focus on testing the integrated network infrastructure that includes the network switches in addition to traditional avionics, such as Line Replaceable Units (LRUs).
These new architectures are becoming more and more software-centric, where a network of general purpose computing platforms are configured and loaded with software applications to take on specific avionics functions. The result is the emergence of standardized software configuration and software loading technologies such as ARINC 615A.
Often, legacy buses such as ARINC429 and Mil-STD-1553 are found alongside these newer buses and applications, and need to be tested concurrently. This gives Teradyne an advantage with the broadest bus test product line in the industry.
Avionics Magazine: Are you seeing more demand for databus testing from the commercial or military segments of the aerospace industry? How do the needs in these sectors differ?
Wood: We are seeing more demanding requirements in the military. The trend has several elements: Standardized High Speed Serial; fiber channel applications such as FC-RDMA, ARINC 818, FC1760, AS5643 FireWire, HS1760, Ethernet including AFDX, TTE; application-specific digital buses based on multi-lane LVDS, LVTTL, RS485; and legacy standard buses, such as ARINC429 and Mil-STD-1553.
The use of standardized high-speed serial buses, such as FC and Ethernet, are slowly displacing the traditional buses, such as 1553 and ARINC 429, as well as the custom application-specific buses. However, even in the latest aircraft platforms such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), all three classes of buses coexist, requiring the use of a highly flexible test platform. This wide range of buses of various speeds and complexities produces a significant test challenge when a single piece of equipment must address the entire range of requirements. Addressing this challenge is best achieved with a combination of protocol-specific and reconfigurable Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and real-time processing-based instruments. 
Teradyne maintenance technician tests a plane.
Teradyne maintenance technician tests a plane. Photo: Teradyne
Avionics Magazine: How has the evolution of avionics networks from ARINC 429 to AFDX and other standards impacted databus testing solutions?
Wood: The evolution from ARINC 429 to AFDX and from Mil- STD-1553 to FC has introduced a modern networked architecture. Instead of cables and connections alone, the networks now also include electronic switching backbones, which themselves need to be tested and maintained. Since these networks do not rely on a shared medium, they can support much higher data rates and this has driven the need for higher performance test instruments and test systems. The test instruments increasingly need to offload more and more processing from the host test system in order to meet low-latency test requirements.
Avionics Magazine: Where are you seeing the most demand in the avionics databus testing market in terms of embedded applications?
Wood: Embedded applications cover the broad range of uses from production use of 1553 to design and simulation use of HS1760. Clearly the majority use is in the high volume buses, such as 1553 and 429, but will see a shift to FC and Ethernet in the near future.
Avionics Magazine: Where are you seeing the most demand in the avionics databus testing market in terms of region?
Wood: The U.S. is still the market driver, with Asia on the rise with new commercial airline projects.
Avionics Magazine: What products and services are you hoping to provide in the way of avionics databus testing in the next couple of years? Where do you believe you will see the most need?
Wood: The primary focus for the next one or two years will be PXI-based databus testing instruments. The focus will be on three areas. The first is applications where legacy avionics bus data, such as MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429, is being carried across Ethernet-based networks such as ARINC 664/AFDX and Gig-Ethernet. The second area of focus is new applications that use FPGA and real-time processors technology to form unique bus protocols. Last, we will look to coordinate the all the bus testing into a common platform for testing the industry standard buses along with the high-speed serial and unique high-speed digital buses.

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