Ethernet switches are a widely used technology around the world in business and home applications. However, there use in airborne applications is relatively recent due in part to the special requirements of the airborne environment such as the harsher envornment and the need for ruggedized connectors. Curtiss-Wright manufactures switches that meet these requirements thus offering the many advantages Ethernet brings over existing airborne interconnection technology, such as greater interoperability and faster data rates, helping to reduce cable weight and ensure systems are future proof.
Generic switches are generally designed for environments where devices may be plugged into the network at random, may dynamically acquire IP addresses from a DHCP server and where brief transmission boot up delays are of little concequesce. When used in flight test applications, they are designed to facilitate airborne interconnection for data acquisition units, network data recorders, network tap, network mirroring and redundancy, and onboard data processing stations in an Ethernet environment. Ethernet switches function mostly as data aggrigators and synchronizers.
Flight test switches exist in highly predictable topologies where devices are not added or removed dynamically and data throughput is known in advance. Reliable transmission with minimal latencies is a key concern. Flight test systems often consist of distributed data acquisition units and it is vital that data is accurately timestamped to ensure the entire data set is coherant. Additionally, data is usually delivered in real-time to ground stations for safety and flight test efficency. Where possible, flight test switches need to remove delays caused by resending packets or data loss due to brown-outs and resultant system reboots.
Curtiss-Wright addresses these needs with its range of Ethernet switches designed for flight test and other real-time applications. These airborne Ethernet switches are deterministic, reliable and fast due to their hardwired switching design and have a rugged compact form to survive the extreme conditions of the aerospace environment. Live at power-up deterministic functionality eliminates boot-up delays and minimizes data loss from power outages. The Xbar architecture facilitates flexible forwarding and filtering configurations to send data to multiple destinations for real-time monitoring, recording and transmission.