SAE Aerospace Systems and Technology Conference 2016

SAE Aerospace Systems and Technology Conference 2016

By Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson

This year’s SAE ASTC had the theme “Innovation in Propulsion Technologies and Intelligent Aircraft Systems” and took place in Hartford, Connecticut, and was hosted by United Technologies, with further sponsorship from Boeing and TTTech.

Being in the homeland of United Technologies meant we had great participation and vision from the United Technologies leadership teams, this came out in the keynotes and also several panel discussions. It is clear they share a common vision of innovation with the United Technologies family, and are very proud of their heritage through OTIS, UTC Aerospace Systems, Pratt & Whitney, and UTC Climate Controls & Security. I enjoyed the history lessons around the WASP aircraft engine, the safety elevator, and air conditioning.

One panel which was of particular interest was the IVHM Track Panel on Big data and data interoperability or Internet of Things. IVHM (Integrated Vehicle Health Management) systems are becoming more intelligent, with the panel discussing various aspects of implementing IVHM on aircraft. One example was the F-35 Lightning II engine, which is packed with sensors and data collected is used to tune and maintain the engine to keep it at optimum operational efficiency.

Apart from the issues of data privacy, the challenges really fall into volume of data, how to analyse effectively and, of course, cyber security. SAE have a working group that is looking at the data issue, one problem being that the data is mostly unstructured and so creating interoperability standards for data used in IVHM system could be a huge benefit – this is SAE ARP 6904, chaired by Martin Whitfield of Perficient.

A great quote came out of this discussion: “Advanced analytics can turn the data explosion into actionable business intelligence”

John Arnold of IBM Watson also presented on a couple of topics, which caught my eye after our recent announcement on the integration of VxWorks with Watson.

Data security is becoming a central theme in all discussions, and I was fortunate to be able to present our paper on “Using the CIA Triad to analyse a COTS ARINC 653 solution to RTCA DO-355”. This covered aspects of security around Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability and showed how you can use this to satisfy the requirements of RTCA DO-355 or other security standards.

If you would like to present a paper at the next SAE event please submit an abstract at

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