Leveraging an extended network
An Airbus-developed telemetry link is providing real-time data during flight testing of the company’s aircraft to the full network of company test centres, offering access to information from all key on-board instrumentation and cameras -- while also allowing ground personnel from throughout Europe to relay messages for pilots and flight engineers.
The network of Airbus centres that support aircraft flight test operations – such as Filton in England, Seville in Spain, along with Hamburg and Bremen in Germany – now have access to test data for optimum productivity, evaluation and feedback from each specialised facility in real time.
ACCESS DURING FLIGHT TESTING
This project was launched by Airbus to provide all such centres access to aircraft during its in-flight validations, allowing design office team members at each location to actively participate in the campaign without going to Toulouse, France – where these operations typically are based.
Throughout flight testing, a central telemetry room remains in contact with the aircraft via satellite antennas placed in strategic locations – which span France’s southern coastline to southwest England – with engineers and crew members communicating by radio, data and video. Airbus also can use its telemetry links to make data from flight tests in Seville, Spain – home to Airbus Defence and Space’s military aircraft operation – available to other European sites across a secure server.
INSIDE THE TELEMETRY ROOM
During each test manoeuvre, the telemetry team assesses the incoming data and advises whether it has been completed satisfactorily and if the crew can move to the next step in the test flight plan. All final decisions are made by the on-board flight test engineer.
The central telemetry room continually analyses essential data such as fuel consumption, loads experienced on different parts of the aircraft structure and the response of key flight control systems. Two graphic recorders can make instant printouts for closer analysis of any part of the data – which comes in from the aircraft at a rate of 5.3 megabytes per second in real time.
Requests also can be sent from the computers in the telemetry room to the aircraft’s test flight computers for more information about the performance of specific systems. The team is able to review and interpret information provided by a sophisticated onboard system that can take thousands of measurements and monitor hundreds of thousands of parameters.
CUSTOM DATA FOR AIRBUS TEST CENTRES
Each participating facility works from an in-house “ops room” for the duration of a test flight. From there, the teams of design engineers monitor technical data on the aircraft’s performance, which appears instantaneously on two banks of television-sized screens.
These individual teams are fed information relevant to their specific field of expertise, such as hydraulics, electronic systems and handling qualities. A much larger screen mirrors that being monitored on the aircraft itself by flight test engineers – providing these teams with a first-person perspective of the ongoing process.