TTTech delivers distributed IMA test bed with TTEthernet to Sikorsky Aircraft

SAN DIEGO, 5 June 2010. TTTech in Vienna, Austria delivered a distributed integrated modular avionics (IMA) test bed to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Distributed IMA is a class of integrated architectures which inherits all benefits of IMA and enables efficient design of distributed systems with mixed criticality functions. TTTech officials made the announcement at the Avionics USA conference in San Diego.

Posted by John McHale

SAN DIEGO, 5 June 2010. TTTech in Vienna, Austria delivered a distributed integrated modular avionics (IMA) test bed to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Distributed IMA is a class of integrated architectures which inherits all benefits of IMA and enables efficient design of distributed systems with mixed criticality functions. TTTech officials made the announcement at the Avionics USA conference in San Diego.

An integrated yet distributed IMA architecture eliminates traditional conflict of criticality vs. flexibility and closes the gap between federated and integrated architectures, TTTech officials say. Distributed IMA based on TTEthernet can reduce system complexity and facilitates design of advanced electronic systems at lower life cycle costs.

Sikorsky Aircraft is working on a proof-of concept for the new generation of modular, reusable, and scalable integrated vehicle management system (VMS). In contrast to existing IMA systems, hard real-time control loops and isochronous audio and video can reside in the same network with other critical and non-critical functions and operating systems. The Distributed IMA test bed showcases the approaches to integration of high bandwidth time triggered network and ARINC 653 real-time operating system (RTOS), company officials say.

For the integration of hosted functions on different systems, Sikorsky has selected TTEthernet (SAE AS6802 Time-Triggered Ethernet) as a deterministic, high-speed, fault-tolerant 1-gigabit-per-second backbone network. End systems use Wind River's partitioned VxWorks 653 RTOS. TTEthernet and the middleware for the VxWorks RTOS enable the alignment of key system interfaces, software partitions, and computing modules throughout the network. This enables the system to operate as a fault-tolerant hard real-time distributed computer hosting time-, mission-, and safety-critical functions. All critical functions can be made redundant throughout the distributed system to improve survivability and safety. The selected approach for integration of TTEthernet and VxWorks RTOS does not require modification to existing ARINC 653 applications.

"This type of distributed IMA eliminates conflicts in flexible integration of critical and non-critical functions in distributed systems," says Bill Kinahan, software systems technical fellow at Sikorsky Aircraft. "The technology does not impose constraints on distribution or centralization of functions, and therefore we can do what is necessary to optimize our integrated systems."

By utilizing Ethernet-based time-triggered communications for robust network bandwidth partitioning, both VxWorks and TTEthernet jointly expand the concept of time and space partitioning (ARINC 653) from a single host computer to the whole system. This means multiple critical and non-critical applications can run on a complex distributed system, and safely share computing and networking resources. Such an approach is compliant with RTCA DO-297: "“Integrated Modular Avionics Development Guidance and Certification Considerations," used in commercial aviation.

"The convergence of partitioned VxWorks 653 operating system and partitioned time-triggered Ethernet communication enables new system-systems integration capabilities using available technologies," says Chip Downing, director of the aerospace and defense business at Wind River Systems. "We expect Distributed IMA to facilitate more flexible and manageable design of advanced integrated architecture for aerospace and defense applications."

"Time-triggered technologies enable design of mixed criticality distributed systems and platforms for next generation avionics using COTS components today," says Kurt Doppelbauer, vice president of sales an chief sales officer of TTTech North America. "We are pleased with the opportunity to supply advanced system architectures to Sikorsky Aircraft by providing first-class products and integration with leading open and industry standards."

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