The CHARTS Project: An innovation Matrix 2011-01-2753
In the development process, the test phase is considered the most important challenge for designers of safety critical avionic systems found in modern helicopters. Indeed, these Test Systems often operate in uncertain conditions and they must provide safety, fault tolerance, and deterministic timing guarantees. Due to the ever-changing face of technology, the Eurocopter research department leads to the development of Pro- Active Test Systems.
In the current state-of-the-art industrial practice, different test benches are used for the verification of various helicopter ranges (EC175, EC135, etc.) and Unit(s)-Under-Test (UUTs) (automatic pilot, navigation, etc.). Each test bench relies on a specific hardware architecture and software tools. This is due to the heterogeneity of the helicopter parts (which are under test) in terms of computing requirements and handled data structures. In general, several specialised CPU boards are needed to satisfy real time constraints which lead to sophisticated synchronization and communication schemes. In addition to this, dedicated avionic I/O boards (Arinc 429, 1553, etc.) are required depending on the UUTs. This test methodology calls for separate teams with different domain experts in order to achieve the test of each part. The overall avionic system verification is done through the first prototype of the helicopter. Today, this test process is very complex and expensive to perform.
Our paper addresses the above test methodology limitations and calls for an innovative avionic test environment. Our main objective is to build up a generic test environment by the means of offering more flexibility regarding the selection of the suitable target avionic system. An efficient test methodology favors the reuse and the interoperability of hardware and software models while switching between different scenarios.