With the evolution of aircraft systems and technologies, electronics are becoming a more and more critical part of the civil aviation industry. As such, their influence in flight efficiency, safety, security and cost is increasingly becoming a key factor in the development of better aircraft.
With the forecast demand for new airborne functions and systems, concerning mainly new safety, security and passenger service functionalities, a potential increase in aircraft electronic costs may be seen as an unacceptable factor by airlines. Additionally, the weight and areas available for avionics in an aircraft bay will also limit the introduction of new processing units.
To mitigate this scenario, aircraft industry suppliers are looking to emergent technologies, which have been developed and validated in other technological domains, in order to adapt them to the aeronautical safety critical standards and requirements.
By introducing new breakthrough technologies in the avionics domain, DIANA aimed to contribute to the reduction of the aircraft development costs and to the reduction of the aircraft operating costs, enabling a faster upgrade and replacement of the avionics applications and contributing to the overall reduction of weight on-board an aircraft through a better use of available computational resources.
To achieve these goals DIANA proposed an enhanced avionics platform, called Architecture for Independent, Distributed Avionics, short AIDA, based on Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA). AIDA strengthened software reuse, including the reuse of certification credits. The AIDA platform contained an execution environment, platform services and development means to enhance neutrality, location transparency and (early) validation of avionic software.
AIDA laid its foundations on the following core concepts, new in the civil aviation world but already widespread in other industry domains:
- Architecturally Neutral Execution Environments, supporting Object Oriented programming, namely Java programming;
- Distribution, interoperability, provided by the means of a generic set of middleware services;
- Both concepts aimed at independence of applications from underlying hardware and operating systems. It should be possible to reuse major parts of application code and documentation when transferred to another system (like another aircraft) and it should be possible to harmonise development host and target to allow for early prototyping and validation in the software development life cycle.
DIANA aimed at defining:
- The Platform Technology;
- Development Means for future AIDA hosted avionics applications based on Model Driven Engineering approaches, being the OMG standard Model Driven Architecture (MDA) a promising technology currently investigated by the project;
- Certification Means for the AIDA platform and AIDA hosted avionics applications.
The project was organised, following four research paths and an additional evaluation path:
- Development means were studied to implement an integrated tool chain, focussing on model-driven engineering and formal methods;
- The Architecturally Neutral Execution Environment (ANEE), focussing mainly on Java as a candidate to implement neutrality;
- Means to implement the interoperability architecture were studied, mainly platform services, reconfiguration, DDS and CORBA technologies were studied as well;
- Certification means were investigated to ensure the certifiability of proposed solutions;
- A test plan, based on the requirements, defined in the scope of several project’s WPs.
The DIANA project was structured into the following WPs:
- WP 0 Management;
- WP 1 AIDA Requirements – aimed to describe the avionics state of the art, analyse the technologies, available in the IT and embedded market and assembling the results of the both sub-tasks into the requirements baseline for AIDA;
- WP 2 AIDA Specification - aimed at specifying the AIDA platform in detail;
- WP 3 AIDA Simulation - aimed at the implementation of the AIDA platform or its simulations respectively;
- WP 4 AIDA Evaluation - aimed at the evaluation of the AIDA platform;
- WP 5 Exploitation and Dissemination.
The main goal of DIANA was the definition of the next generation IMA platform AIDA, answering the need for more efficient onboard software development. In the view of ever growing avionics software size, development, maintenance and, in particular, certification efforts must be reduced.
The project has investigated a selection of technologies, such as Safety Critical and Real-Time Java, Data Distribution Services, CORBA, platform services as well as model driven engineering and formal methods. The project revealed potential for enhancements in onboard software development, using these kind of technologies. In particular Java, data-centric interoperability and model-driven engineering were considered valuable approaches to raise the level of abstraction from the underlying hardware architecture and the operating system and, hence, to implement more efficient development processes and ease the software code and certification credit reuse.
A challenge to the project was the integration of these new technologies into one IMA platform. However, the project consortium faced this challenge and developed a full specification of the platform, describing a Java-based execution environment, datacentric interoperability, based on Data Distribution Services, platform services, such as file system, health monitor, logbooks and reconfiguration services.
The promising solutions investigated in DIANA are a concrete step toward meeting airframers and airliners (maintenance operations aspects) objectives and requirements for reduction of the different overheads, such as weight / volume / cost / wiring / power consumption or, as a result of the reconfiguration service, a minimum set of spare equipments) of the avionics systems, in combination with availability, reliability and dispatchability improvements achieved.
DIANA initiated contacts with other European research projects in aeronautics and real-time and embedded system development, most important of which is SCARLETT. Technical topics like reconfiguration have been discussed with SCARLETT members and DIANA delivered public reports, e.g. the Interface Control Document to the SCARLETT project. Besides having different focus – DIANA mainly on software, SCARLETT on overall system integration – the projects have similar approaches for common problems, such as platform reconfiguration or platform services. It is expected that DIANA and SCARLETT achievements will influence future standards in avionic system development as, for example, th
DIANA initiated contacts with other European research projects in aeronautics and real-time and embedded system development, the most important of which is SCARLETT. Technical topics like reconfiguration have been discussed with SCARLETT members and DIANA delivered public reports, e.g. the Interface Control Document to the SCARLETT project. Besides having different focus – DIANA mainly on software, SCARLETT on overall system integration – the projects have similar approaches for common problems, such as platform reconfiguration or platform services. It is expected that DIANA and SCARLETT achievements will influence future standards in avionic system development such as, for example, the ARINC 653 specification.
Note that this aspect has been taken into account in the SCARLETT project where a huge work package, compared to the DIANA dimensions, defines a Distributed IMA development environment.