Aerospace

Astronautics is continuing a long tradition of innovation dating back to its founding in 1959 with several technology initiatives. From reduction of development costs for complex integrated systems to providing continuous aircraft connectivity in the air, Astronautics innovation keeps customers operating efficiently.

We invite you to explore the latest technologies our engineers are developing.

Connectivity & Data Management
FACE/Open Architecture Computing Systems
ADS-B/CDTI
HD Video Displays
Synthetic Vision System

Connectivity & Data Management

The advancement of wireless technology has spurred the development of the Internet of things, in which many devices are being connected to the Internet and are able to access information previously unavailable. Airplanes have joined this trend with the advent of servers and electronic flight bags (EFB). These devices allow the airplane to become a node in the operator’s network that is accessible and can exchange information in real time.

Systems on board airplanes produce significant amounts of data throughout each flight. However the data is confined to the airplane and downloaded through a labor intensive process only when needed. Today onboard servers and EFB allow the operators to quickly download the airplane data. For example maintenance information can be easily downloaded, allowing the operator to perform preventive maintenance and improve the availability of the airplane. Furthermore the connectivity to the Internet allows the crew to access real time information previously unavailable, from weather to updated flight planning information, giving them the capability to further optimize their routing and increase the comfort and safety of the passengers.

The benefits of airplane connectivity are not confined onboard. The operation center benefits from the connectivity, decreasing the time it takes to perform several operations, from database loading to simply knowing the details of the current airplane configuration.

The connectivity to the Internet is however a two-way pipeline and it carries security risks with it. Modern onboard servers allow the operator to firewall the airplane from external risks, diminishing the downsides of the onboard use of the Internet.

As the airplane becomes a more and more integrated piece of the operator network, additional functions will be added to make the airplane a flying node in the overall customer operations.

The connectivity to the Internet is however a two-way pipeline and it carries security risks with it. Modern onboard servers allow the operator to firewall the airplane from external risks, diminishing the downsides of the onboard use of the Internet. As the airplane becomes a more and more integrated piece of the operator network, additional functions will be added to make the airplane a flying node in the overall customer operations.

FACE/Open Architecture Computing Systems

As modern avionics and mission systems are relying more and more on integrated systems, advanced processing, and general purpose and specific software applications, the challenge has become to control development and support costs, to minimize systems being tied to a single provider for the life of a program, and to reduce development, integration, and certification time cycles. In order to address these growing challenges, the US Government and an industry team has identified the need for portability of software applications, interoperability of hardware and software, and secure, robust systems.

It has been concluded that these goals can only be achieved through the use of open architecture hardware, software, and systems. As a means to foster these open architecture approaches to new and retrofit programs, the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™) Consortium was formed to define requirements and standards for the creation of affordable software systems that promote innovation and rapid integration of portable capabilities across global defense programs, standard interfaces that will lead to reuse of capabilities, and portable, and robust, interoperable, and secure applications.

Astronautics has been dedicated to working with our customers and end users of our products to maximize the use, reduce cost, and ensure long term supportability of these products. A critical element of these efforts has been the recognition that open architecture systems provide the most benefit to our customers. In support of this open architecture concept, Astronautics has developed many families of Server, Mission Computers, Display Processors, and Electronic Flight Bag systems specifically designed to enable our customers to utilize, adapt and support these products. With the advent of the FACE Consortium, Astronautics has targeted its software and hardware efforts toward conforming to the open architecture concepts of FACE.

Research and development is working to:

  • Standardize approaches & process models within the Astronautics systems
  • Lower implementation costs of future applications in Astronautics FACE conformant systems
  • Conform to standards that support a robust architecture and quality software
  • Define interoperability within FACE systems and components
  • Develop portable applications across multiple FACE systems
  • Select FACE conforming ARINC-653 RTOS products

These internal developments are focused on the Operating Systems, I/O Services, Platform Specific Services, Transport Services, and the Portable Components Segments. In addition to these architectural segments, the Astronautics efforts are working to ensure these systems also comply with the safety, general purpose, and security profiles.

ADS-B/CDTI

The increasing size of the middle class throughout the world has been the driver for traffic growth in the past 20 years and will continue to be the main growth driver for the next 20 years. It is expected that the middle class worldwide population will grow from over 2 billion people today to over 5 billion people by the early 2030s.

As a consequence airline traffic till the early 2030s is expected to match the growth pace of the past 20 years with a forecasted year over year growth of around 5%. This growth is the equivalent of doubling the total traffic every 15 years. In order to accommodate this increased volume of passengers, the airlines and the air traffic authorities of the world have two options: introduce larger capacity aircraft or add aircraft which requires improving the efficiency of the airspace.

Statistical data from the past 20 years has shown that while airlines have put more seats in airplanes, the average aircraft size has not increased. Therefore in order to accommodate over 20,000 new airplanes in the next 20 years, the airspace operators from all over the world – FAA with NextGen, Europe with SESAR and China with their ADS-B rollout – are introducing new onboard tools. One of these tools is a Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI) application that provides through ADS-B inputs and outputs a clear picture of all the traffic surrounding the aircraft in the air and on the ground. It is a significant shift in the concept of service for airspace users, as we are going from a first come, first served philosophy to one of best equipped, first served.

Astronautics has been a pioneer in the development and introduction of CDTI tools like Merging & Spacing (M&S) and In-trail Procedures (ITP) to operators worldwide. Astronautics is providing operators with software applications running on their current avionics or on Astronautics servers, that increase crew situational awareness of the traffic around the aircraft, reduce fuel consumption by optimizing the aircraft route horizontally and vertically, improve the communication with ATC displaying text information for all users and finally reduce the pilot workload by relying on data, not sometimes confusing voice interaction with ATC and other traffic.

High Definition (HD) Video Displays

The defense and security demands for high-altitude, long-endurance and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and target designation have increased dramatically in the last decade as threats and challenges have increased throughout the world. These evolving demands have led to the development and use of improved surveillance systems that now offer high definition video sensors, increased stand-off ranges, real-time image enhancement, improved feature detection and recognition, and high performance haze penetration. These improvements have included superior imaging resolution from electro-optic and infrared cameras and high definition digital imaging that require cockpit and mission station displays to support this new digital and high definition video.

To meet this growing demand, Astronautics has developed and is now fielding high definition video input and output capabilities in a variety of its products for surveillance and search and rescue systems. The introduction of Digital Video Interface (DVI) and SMPTE-292M High Definition digital video to Astronautics displays has enabled operators to upgrade to HD sensor systems without having to install dedicated video displays. These capabilities are now being implemented in a variety of Astronautics display systems and display processors.

Synthetic Vision System

Flying an airplane or a helicopter in low visibility conditions due to weather and/or time of day is a task that puts a very high workload on the pilot. The high workload increases the chances for mistakes in case of an emergency. Synthetic Vision System (SVS) technology emerged from the need to see through the darkness and through the clouds, to bring back a VFR view of the world in IFR conditions.

A synthetic vision system overlays relevant terrain information on the symbology of a primary flight display. The most advanced SVS PFDs use HUD symbology in place of the conventional pitch based PFD symbology to give the pilot a view into the energy state of the aircraft compared to the terrain it is overflying. Furthermore the HUD symbology helps the pilot during non-precision and precision approaches to the airport or the landing pad, clearly indicating the aircraft path and energy state.

The terrain can be displayed in several different resolutions with the new state-of-the-art being 3 arc sec. This resolution allows for an excellent definition in critical geographic areas like mountainous terrain.

The most advanced Synthetic Vision Systems blend the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) indications with the terrain depiction. In this case the terrain is colored with the TAWS alerts to draw the attention of the pilot and provide look-ahead warnings.

Finally, very few SVS systems are tailored to the unique needs of the helicopter community. The improved resolution of the terrain coupled with the merging of the terrain with external sensor inputs improves the usefulness of SVS to helicopter pilots.

Our goal at Astronautics for the introduction of SVS in our family of display products is to build a better PFD that can increase the situational awareness of the pilot in the most critical high workload situations like night flying or low visibility approaches.

Finally, very few SVS systems are tailored to the unique needs of the helicopter community. The improved resolution of the terrain coupled with the merging of the terrain with external sensor inputs improves the usefulness of SVS to helicopter pilots.

Our goal at Astronautics for the introduction of SVS in our family of display products is to build a better PFD that can increase the situational awareness of the pilot in the most critical high workload situations like night flying or low visibility approaches.

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