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Development and validation of embedded hardware in the Aeronautic
By Matthieu, Amaris Consultant
In the Aeronautic, the security is a requirement that borders on obsession, and it is the least we can do. Each element must be tested to validate its correct operation and compliance with the required standards. But the validation procedures must also meet this security requirement. We asked Matthew, a consultant specialized in embedded hardware, to describe the project he is currently leading in this area.
In a few words, can you describe the project?
As share of the development of a new Italian civil helicopter, the project consists in developing some electronics cards, which are responsible of the primary distribution of power; that is to say, the supply of all the items requiring power: reactors thrust, hydraulic systems, contactor (switches), calculators (FPGA-Field Programmable Gate Array), lights on the dashboard and so on. One card manages the supply power of a single element in the helicopter.
These cards are specific to each aircraft/helicopter, and they have been designed in compliance with aeronautic standards and specifications of our client.
As essential elements of the system, they must guarantee the security by ensuring that the critical elements of the helicopter are supplied at any moment. For this purpose, the essential parts and the non-essential parts of the supply are separated in commands (segregation of elements).
For example, if a short circuit appears in a non-essential part of the supply, the card which takes care of this part will first isolate the short circuit by isolating the power supply, and then it will "inform" the other cards; According to this, the other cards will have to adapt themselves to manage the supply.
What are the context and the issues?
In the Aeronautic, the issues are above all safe In case of a component’s failure, it should be possible to guarantee that the main supplies are maintained, in order to maintain the aircraft in flight and ensure safety of people.
What are your role and the contribution of Amaris in the project?
My role within the project is to create and validate test procedures (VTP: Verification Test Procedure) for the electronics (VTP-SAS: Sub Assembly Specification) and for the equipment part (VTP-SES: Equipment Supplier Specification). I also have to share potential problems as the technical requirements impossible to verify, the design errors, etc.
For the sake of traceability, we use specific tools such as DOORS, for the traceability and the writing of various documents relating to the project, or Gemini, for the redaction of the problems’ reports.
In summary, before being integrated into the equipment, the electronic part must be verified by following the aforementioned procedure. Once that's done, the electronic part is installed in the full equipment, which will follow a different procedure for validation. We must ensure that the equipment meets the requirements both functional and safe (standards and client).
What do you get of that experience?
This is a very rewarding experience; I handle dozens of people who have some expertise in various fields. I had to develop my communication skills and gain some knowledge in these fields that are among others the mechanics and the electronics in order to adapt myself to the requirements of the Aeronautics field.
I also developed a culture of rigor and high standards in my work to leave no place for errors, which can have serious consequences.