DH - Defence Helicopter

Paris Air Show: Collins tool up for open architecture effort

10th June 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Tim Martin in London


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Collins Aerospace is developing software-based toolkits that allow third party applications to be rapidly integrated into open architecture environments, Shephard has learnt.

The toolkits are capable of defining interfaces that work with Collins in-house systems and allow vendors to then align their software packages with a common standard so new applications can be integrated smoothly.

‘We've done integrations with third party software in less than a couple of weeks,’ Doug Lloyd, general manager, rotary-wing avionics at Collins Aerospace, told Shephard.  

The significance of the work is that it could have a potentially profound impact on how future open architecture mission systems, for the rotorcraft industry, are developed and mean the use of new applications can be tested faster.

‘The goal is to reduce the heavy regulatory burden and cost of going through a complete new re-certification. So if [a third party application] doesn't impact flight worthiness and you can validate it, it should be a very quick effort,’ Lloyd explained.

The tool kits are set to be incorporated into Collins Aerospace JMR-TD Mission Systems Architecture Demonstration (MSAD) programme work, where the company is required to assess technical risks deriving from a next generation open architecture mission system platform and through that research produce a set of recommendations for its US Army customer.

‘The aim for MSAD is really trying to figure out how to create an architecture that will allow them [the US Army] to maintain technical [capabilities] over... the enemy by reducing the time necessary to field new capabilities’, Lloyd explained.

‘The army also has to think about how to make a system flexible enough to not only support future aircraft like those of future vertical lift but also retrofit existing aircraft.’

Collins is also developing a re-router application for pilots as part of MSAD, which is capable of assisting with situational awareness matters by letting users 'most effectively move from point A to point B with the least amount of threats or risks'. 

Those particular risks include adverse weather conditions or enemy positions, according to Lloyd. 

'Again you want to be able to quickly integrate that kind of application into the system without having to go through a big development effort,' he added.

MSAD final reports are due to be handed over by industry contractors to the army in December 2020 but until then there has been no firm indication from decision makers relating to how developments arising from JMR-TD air vehicle demonstrations will fit with mission system matters.

'There's a couple of different options,' Lloyd suggested. 'The army may separate the air vehicle from the mission system provider, or let the [helicopter] OEM do both or [request] some hybrid combination. Nothing has been decided in terms of how they're going to acquire the mission system itself.'

Boeing and Raytheon are also involved in the MSAD effort, Shephard understands.

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