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Real-time Linux helps design military cargo plane

Apr 24, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Airbus reportedly tapped real-time Linux in designing its A400M military transport plane, set to ship this year. Concurrent said it supplied the German airplane manufacturer with real-time Linux-based systems used for hardware-in-loop (HIL) simulation test stands used to perfect the A400M's “high-lift control… computers.”

(Click for larger view of Airbus A400M)

High-lift control computers actuate trailing-edge wing flaps that create additional lift during take-off and landing. In HIL testing, the computer is attached to mathematically simulated models, rather than actual hardware, creating a “closed loop” test environment said to be “reproducible, systematic, fast, and more reliable,” compared to actual bench testing of physical parts.

The A400M military transport plane has a wingspan of 42.4 meters. Its four engines use 8-blade propellers with diameters of 17.5 feet. The monstrous cargo plane is currently in the final design stages, its outer wing sections having been delivered earlier this month to a final assembly line in Seville, Spain. Airbus reportedly has about 200 orders for the plane.

The “Airbus A400M High Lift System” test stand uses Concurrent's dual- and quad-core “iHawk” x86 systems running its RedHawk real-time Linux variant and real-time database. The systems run MATLAB/Simulink modeling and test management software from the MathWorks, and can gather and store I/O points “in a 500 [microsecond] frame,” while also “providing 300 [microseconds] of run time for the Simulink model,” Concurrent said. The stand was produced in partnership with the FTI Group, a Concurrent partner that supplies test and simulation systems to the European market.

Jochen Venrath, head of design at verification at the FTI Group, stated, “The A400M test stand is engineered to gather and store thousands of I/O points. The seamless integration of MathWorks' Simulink and Concurrent products enabled our team to deliver a HIL system that is easy to use and reconfigurable for multiple tests.”

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