Flexible, Future Proof Avionics Test System

Pickering's switching and simulation products support the development of a cost and time-saving core avionics test system to be used across a wide variety of platforms and projects.

The Customer

A multinational corporation that designs and manufactures aircraft avionics, space and security systems, and provides support services worldwide.

The Application

Avionics control unit - Flexible, future proof avionics testThe electronic systems and sub-assemblies used in military and commercial avionics are required to meet exceptionally high-quality standards. The cost of failure in this industry is high, replacing failed components can be very costly and some failures can be catastrophic, leading to loss of life. 

The very diverse nature of equipment requiring testing in avionic systems has traditionally called for an equally complex range of test equipment required to measure signals ranging from DC to microwave. A major avionics manufacturer has recently engaged with Pickering to architect a core switching subsystem for a scalable avionics functional test system to be used across a variety of their platforms and projects. The development of such a flexible core test system is intended to reduce ongoing engineering costs and the time associated with test system development. Leveraging as much of the engineering effort invested in the new core switching system as possible offers time and cost savings on any future project requiring automated test. The diverse range of products requires a switching system that is capable of addressing an equally diverse range of signal levels and frequencies.

The Solution

The main challenges presented by the new core system were to cover all existing test requirements as efficiently (cost and footprint) as possible and to have a final design that can address any future or unknown requirements. A scalable, modular switch system was central to the final design allowing additional capability to be added as required. The initial concepts were based on the VXI platform, as the customer had previously worked with VXI-based equipment. They also did not think that PXI would provide the switching density required, however, after further consultation, it was concluded that the Pickering PXI switching and simulation product range not only met their requirements but would provide a more scalable solution with a lower risk of obsolescence.  

Pickering PXI switching & simulation for Flexible, Future Proof Avionics Test System
Pickering's scalable, modular switch system used in this core avionics test system

Pickering’s key advantage is their core competency and focus on high-density signal switching and the availability of key products, including power, microwave and signal switching in discrete, multiplexer and matrix topologies. In addition to signal switching, programmable resistors were incorporated to simulate various loading conditions during test. 

The new switching system allowed the customer to extend their instrumentation I/O. This provided a comprehensive range of test scenarios and the ability to test a wide range of avionics LRUs (line replaceable units) and be adapted for many different aircraft platforms. 

eBIRST™ – Switching System Test Tools Finally, the support of these switching systems once fielded was also a key consideration as the customer could not afford to have extended test system downtime during the fault diagnosis and repair cycle. Pickering’s eBIRST switching system test tools were viewed as a valuable resource that could quickly identify faults in the field. These tools allow the customer to return products for repair with meaningful diagnostics data, as well as having the option to do on-site repairs without voiding the warranty.

Referenced Products:

PXI Switching Modules:

PXI Simulation Modules

Diagnostics

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