Safety Critical COTS Avionics, Military Avionics Trends

Military Embedded Systems

Authored by: John McHale of Military Embedded Systems

Every month the McHale Report will host an online roundtable with experts from the defense electronics industry – from major prime contractors to defense component suppliers. Each roundtable will explore topics important to the military embedded electronics market. This month our roundtable of industry experts discuss avionics design trends, safety certification of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, and the buzz on the floor at the Aviation Electronics Europe show held last week in Munich, Germany.

This month’s panelists are Matt Jackson, Technical Project Manager, Embedded Graphics, at Presagis in Swindon, United Kingdom; Paul Hart, Chief Technology Officer at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions in Bournemouth, United Kingdom; Marc Gandillon, Marketing Communications Manager at Creative Electronic Systems (CES) in Geneva, Switzerland; and Tim Keller, Director of Marketing at Great River Technology in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

MCHALE REPORT: Last week the avionics community gathered in Munich, Germany for the annual Aviation Electronics Europe show. What trends did you see emerging at the event?

JACKSON: There seemed to be more interest in COTS support of certification than previously; people were looking for products supporting both hardware and software certification. It seems that the drive for more features and systems on aircraft is stretching development times while resources are becoming tighter. Where previously bespoke solutions were developed, people were looking for [commercial-off-the-shelf] COTS to fill the gap.

HART: First, there’s a lot of talk in the industry about the changes to the air traffic system with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Next Gen and the [European] Sing European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programs, so there will be a lot of changes to air traffic management. There be changes coming to avionics as well, specifically on flight management systems and surveillance systems in as much as Automatic Dependent Systems-Broadcast (ADS-B) is coming to the forefront to provide position reporting of the aircraft over land and water via sitcom links.

Another trend is the development of the aerospace version of CANbus (ARINC 825), which is basically taking automotive technology and moving it into the aviation industry with the objective of taking out weight due to wiring in the aircraft but also building in redundancies and fault tolerance into the network at the same time.  

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