Project enhances European aviation
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Project enhances European aviation

Researchers at the EU-funded ASHLEY project are utilising distributed modular electronics in next-generation avionics to establish Europe as a global leader in aviation innovation.

Aircraft depend on complex avionics for everything from flight control to flight management, navigation and systems control.

As aircraft become increasingly complex, the number of functions performed by avionics continues to increase – meaning the architecture has to grow in both size and complexity.

To help overcome these challenges, the concept of integrated modular avionics (IMA) was introduced. With IMA, a single platform can be used to host many different avionics-related functions coming from many different suppliers.

As aircraft continue to advance, there is a need for a more advanced, second-generation IMA (IMA2G). To develop this IMA-based avionics platform the European aerospace industry initiated the EU-funded SCARLETT project.

SCARLETT was able to validate numerous IMA2G concepts, the most important being the use of distributed modular electronics (DME).

SCARLETT project co-ordinator Didier Hainaut said: “DME was a breakthrough and the foundation from which IMA2G is built on.

“To make the most of DME’s potential, we established the EU-funded ASHLEY project to carry out research on top of the existing state-of-the-art previously developed in the SCARLETT project.”

Although ongoing, the ASHLEY project has already led to several important developments.

The platform introduces an avionics power line communications solution that means the power distribution system can be used for both power and data. This allows for reduced weight, volume and complexity in aircraft wiring and lower installation and maintenance costs.

ASHLEY researcher Jean-Arnaud Causse said that in order to facilitate the exchange of data on-board an aircraft, the project developed a secured multi-domain data distribution service that “increases both cross-functions and cross-domain interoperability. As a result, one can avoid the multiplication of physical databases, complex maintenance operations and the need for a large amount of memory space.”

Project co-ordinator Thierry Maret added: “By understanding research and technological development, with a close global market perspective, ASHLEY is contributing to the establishment of European leadership in the aviation sector.”