Yesterday, I attended the UK’s Military Aerospace & Electronics technical conference and exhibition, which was held at the Heritage Motor Centre. The technical conference was split into three technical tracks, which were broadly related to avionics, land systems and technologies; and as is sometimes the case at these conferences I found that I wanted to attend some presentations which were running concurrently!
At a high-level, there were recurring themes amongst the presentations relating to modularisation, reconfigurability and of course, security. Some of the presentations discussed these issues in the context of the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) programme, which is broadly speaking the UK equivalent of the US Future Combat System (FCS) programme. It was interesting to hear how future upgradeability through planned obsolescence and technology insertion prior to deployment, and the recognition that standards-based open architectures could facilitate this requirement.
Michael Morua of Atkins Defence Systems (MOD-appointed Systems House
for FRES) gave a technical presentation on how the FRES Electronic
Architecture (EA) is being implemented using a service oriented
architecture, and even explained how reconfigurability would be
achieved through open interface standards, and interfaces to external
systems could be implemented through common data exchange middleware.
I always appreciate the opportunity to learn about emerging technologies at these conferences, so I was glad that I attended Peter Allsopp of GE Aviation’s (formerly Smiths Aerospace) technical presentation ‘Networked Aerospace Systems – Future Data Network Technologies‘. It was interesting to hear how as data throughput requirements for avionics networks increase, the determinism, latency and availability requirements become harder to maintain with current avionics networking technologies. It appears that FlexRay, an open standard for time-triggered field bus technology may provide the way forward.
FlexRay was originally developed for safety-critical automotive applications, so it’s encouraging to see that avionics can potentially benefit from
the more widespread deployment of technologies in the automotive sector. This suggests that there can be cross-fertilisation between aerospace and automotive in both directions (blog: Can Automotive learn from Avionics Safety?).