Ada used for key systems on military aircraft

Sept. 1, 2005
The EADS CASA Military Transport Aircraft Division’s (MTAD), advanced refueling boom system (ARBS) uses Ada software from AdaCore in New York City for its critical systems.

By John McHale

PARIS - The EADS CASA Military Transport Aircraft Division’s (MTAD), advanced refueling boom system (ARBS) uses Ada software from AdaCore in New York City for its critical systems. EADS is short for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

Ada is a better language for robust, long-standing, safety-critical applications, says Enrique Martinez, division manager, EADS CASA. “Given the freedom of choice, we prefer to use Ada for anything that is safety related and long-standing,” says Martinez. “In the past year, we have been exposed to other languages, developing very large military systems applications in C++, such as databases, but those are not safety critical.”

The device software that controls the complex, mid-air refueling operations consists of the safety-critical-certified ARINC653 operating system VxWorks 653 from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif., and the GNAT Pro for VxWorks 653 Ada compilation system from AdaCore.

AdaCore GNAT Pro and associated development tools provide a run-time suited for avionic applications and that is certifiable up to level A of DO-178B, specifically addressing the boom project’s requirements for safety- and mission-critical robustness and flexibility.

This application will provide a high-quality, low-risk and cost-effective refueling technology for a new military aircraft-the A330 MRTT, which is derived from EADS’ commercial Airbus A330 aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force has already selected the A330 MRTT to meet their refueling requirements, with the first of five aircrafts scheduled for delivery in 2008.

“For the boom system we had the freedom to choose and no special constraints as with other types of commercial applications,” Martinez adds.

The software also meets a European version of the FAA’s DO-178B safety critical standard.

EASA, the European agency equivalent to the FAA, has a parallel implementation of D0178B, Martinez says. “The name of the standard is RTCA 178 and importantly, once the application is certified in one country, it is certified in all adhering to the standard.”

The Australian Air Force has already selected the MRTT.

“For the complete MRTT Australian boom system, we identified software as one of the critical issues,” Martinez says. “We had to prepare a plan that defines all levels of specificity that the Australian Air Force is going to have in this product.

“This involves not only the recording system, there is also modification of the aircraft avionics to tailor it to military roles, he continues. “For example the flight management system was modified and the flying displays format also was modified. We also have the link 16 base mission system that provides the operator tactical situation coordinates, another activity including a lot of software. In the recording system itself, we have the flight control path being developed in-house by EADS and consisting of a quadruplex architecture with VxWorks operating system and using AdaCore technology.

“In addition, we have the operator multifunction displays, which are being developed by Barco, and the refueling computer, which is being developed by Goodrich,” Martinez says. The Australian tanker also includes a link interface computer that is also being developed using AdaCore technology.

These contract wins are an example of the strong market for Ada products, says Jamie Ayre, marketing manager for AdaCore. “Definitely in safety-critical, we are getting a lot of interest-especially in the new language Ada 2005," says Ayre. “In terms of AdaCore market we are still 70 percent military applications, but we’re getting some new projects in that are quite exciting in finance, medical, and transportation.”

AdaCore sees that 70 to 75 percent of the European military market is focused on mil-aerospace, Ayre says. “Compared to the U.S. it is a very slow growth, quite simply because we don’t have the military budget or the size of projects that the U.S. is turning out, but it is definitely growing. In terms of turnover, AdaCore as a whole (including U.S. and Europe) has seen a steady 20 percent growth over the last 10 years.”

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