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July 2008 edition

Software for avionics: one of the many challenges of aerospace

By Chip Downing, senior industry specialist, aerospace and defence

One of the greatest difficulties in supplying software to the aerospace and defence (A&D) market is that each vertical application segment within this market has very diverse requirements that are challenging to achieve and maintain. These requirements are driven by a wide variety of forces, but in most cases they are based upon platform portability, safety/security/quality, service-ability and performance. Currently there are seven primary hurdles facing engineering managers in A&D: Software Communications Architecture, POSIX, Linux, safety, security, multicore processors/virtualisation, and device management.

Software Communications Architecture (SCA)

The next generation of communications, both in the military and commercial space, will be based upon a concept called software defined radio (SDR). This technology replaces fixed hardware components in today's radios with a flexible and portable, dynamically programmable technology for installing different waveforms to support different communications infrastructures. This extends the use of military radios and enables communications to take advantage of new waveforms and adapt to the local infrastructure without modifying hardware systems. To accomplish this feat in the military, radio manufacturers need full compliance to the SCA, an industry standard created to enable independence of software stacks and waveforms in these m....

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