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Solving the Problem of Integrating Separate FTI Product Lines

November 07, 2017 | BY: Stephen Willis

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Standards make life easier for everyone. Imagine if every phone you bought needed a different cable or every pack of bolts had their own type of nut. In the world of flight test instrumentation (FTI) data acquisition equipment, this is somewhat still the case. It’s a niche industry and there are still a lack of agreed standards so it is not yet possible to plug different data acquisition systems (DAS) from different manufacturers together and expect them to work without some level of integration effort. This can even be an issue with different product lines in a single company.

Many DAS now use Ethernet as a communication backbone, so in theory it should be possible to simply connect different DAS together through an Ethernet switch. In reality, there can be differences in communication and timing protocols that need addressing. A significant problem is that no one software can setup and manage these DAS.

The result of this is that it is much easier for an FTI department to select a sole source supplier and stay within one ecosystem of products as long as it works well enough and they are not forced to another vendor for one reason or another. That does not mean they would not like to cherry pick products from multiple vendors, but it is generally not worth the risk and effort to do this.

Curtiss-Wright found itself considering this problem in some detail after it acquired Teletronics Technology Corporation. We now had two significant portfolios of data acquisition lines with two separate software suites. The obvious step was to find a way to allow users of each system to selectively choose between product lines to get exactly what they wanted without worrying about compatibility.

Our solution was to reconfigure the DAS Studio and TTCWare suites so they use a common functional core. Specifically, the core business logic for both DAS Studio and TTCWare have been wrapped in separate APIs, and these in turn have been separated from the user interface layers. This permits support for hardware from either company to be added to either application with minimal effort.

FTI, DAU, das studio, ttcware

Thus organizations will be able choose a wider mix of hardware than before and the choice of either a DAS Studio of TTCWare as their configuration software. You can find out more about this approach, and how else FTI software will likely evolve in the future, by reading the “The Future of FTI Configuration Software” white paper.

Author’s Biography

Stephen Willis

Product Marketing Specialist

Stephen Willis works for Curtiss-Wright in the role of Product Marketing Specialist. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters in Philosophy for research in mathematical models and their market application for risk assessment and a PG Dip in marketing and management. His current research interests include data acquisition, recording and control systems and their applications in enabling a cost effective route to gathering large amounts of data. In particular, applications of interest include flight test, crash protected recording and structural/ usage monitoring programs. He is the author of several of academic papers and magazine articles.

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