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Flight Test Instrumentation: Standardization of Metadata

August 11, 2014 | BY: David Buckley

Curtiss-Wright Works toward Standardization of Metadata in FTI

In the earlier part of the Industrial Revolution, local craftsmen made simple items individually – usually. In other words, if a crucial bolt on your steam engine broke, you couldn’t just pop over to the big box home store and buy a standard 12mm fine-pitch-thread bolt to replace it, and know it would fit at that. Though efforts began earlier, it wasn’t until World War I forced international cooperation that standardization efforts really took root.

Here we are a century later, and standardization is still an issue in some cases. Curtiss-Wright is directly involved in efforts to bring standards to an area that is both critical to Flight Test Instrumentation and yet is often invisible to many in the industry: metadata.

First of all, what is metadata? Metadata is data that describes other data, whether describing its structure or the data itself. In the past, different manufacturers had devised their own proprietary systems for formatting metadata. The problem is as obvious as the steam engine with the broken bolt that had its own unique size, length and thread pitch. Whenever new FTI hardware was purchased, a new "language" used to format the metadata had to be learned. Even bigger problems often surfaced when FTI equipment from more than one vendor had to be integrated.

Efforts to Standardize Metadata

Efforts to create unified standards for metadata in the FTI community date back to 1989, but the process is still not complete. Curtiss-Wright has significant expertise from working on the open, effective and mature XidML standard. It is now playing an active role in the ongoing work to get industry stakeholders to agree to a standard that meets the critical requirements: vendor neutral, flexible, extensible and easily processed, among other attributes. An analysis of the standards currently being discussed is beyond the scope of this article, but Curtiss-Wright is committed to the process and believes an FTI standard for metadata will be achieved in the next few years.

Whichever of the current options emerges as the final choice, it will be fully supported by Curtiss-Wright FTI and more importantly, will work with our hardware and software. This process provides peace of mind for Curtiss-Wright customers, because after all, you don’t want to have to reinvent the bolt – you just want it to fit.

Contact Curtiss-Wright if you have specific questions or concerns about the use of metadata by our FTI or any other issue.

Author’s Biography

David Buckley

Chief Architect, Engineering

Dave Buckley is Chief Architect at Curtiss-Wright. He received his B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from University College Cork in 1996. Mr Buckley has extensive experience in ASIC, FPGA, hardware and system level design and architecture for a variety of different industries and applications. Since joining Curtiss-Wright in 2009 he has held several positions including Senior Hardware Designer and Principal Hardware Architect. In his current role he is responsible for managing the product roadmap and guiding the technical direction of flight test instrumentation product lines.

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