Over the last several years, French test solutions provider ALTYS has seen global demand increase from a range of different aviation stakeholders for its data link infrastructure and avionics test equipment used for validating aircraft Controller to Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). The company has progressively been supplying test equipment to both the FAA for its Data Comm program and the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) for its ongoing study of data link communications issues in Europe. Airframe manufacturers and systems integrators looking to validate their onboard CPDLC avionics before entry into service have also turned to Altys for lab-based testing data link testing activity.
The main test equipment supplied by ALTYS to provide airports, operators, regulatory agencies and research consortiums a third-party means of validating their data link infrastructure equipment and services is the PEER platform and DREAM system. PEER has the ability to emulate either an aircraft sending and receiving standard data link messages to ground automation systems. The PEER technology is also capable of emulating a network of VHF data link ground stations, such as VDL 2, Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and Aeronautical Telecommunications Network (ATN) ground networks. ALTYS has primarily positioned its PEER test equipment to provide a method for performing comprehensive data link communications system integration testing in a lab environment.
“In addition to PEER we are currently providing our DREAM system in the Americas for the advanced modeling & testing of data communications equipment in a highly realistic environment. DREAM supports the emulation of thousands of aircraft and widely-deployed ground infrastructures (continent-wide), all of which operate fully standard-compliant systems that have been qualified against legacy ground networks and avionics,” Carlos Gonzalez, director of business development for the Americas at ALTYS, told Avionics Magazine.
The FAA has also used the ALTYS distributed and automated aircraft simulation platform, AC-SIM, at its Data Comm network services test bed located at its technical center in New Jersey. AC-SIM has the ability to simulate aircraft performing up to 8,000 flights for test runs lasting several days during which thousands of CPDLC messages can be exchanged, and the ground systems receiving them can be validated.
In Europe, SESAR JU has also used ALTYS test equipment to study the technical issues that have delayed the European mandate for aircraft CPDLC equipage until 2020. Earlier this year, SESAR JU published a report, which found that VDL Mode 2 over a single frequency has already reached its capacity limits and the development of next generation data link technology is going to be necessary to manage projected air traffic growth in Europe.
Elsewhere in Europe, Dassault Aviation is also using ALTYS’s Commercial off The Shelf (COTS) test solutions to support system integration and validation testing of CPDLC avionics on its new Falcon 5X and 8X programs. Both the Falcon 5X and 8X will be equipped with Dassault’s Easy avionics suite and enhanced graphical CPDLC functionality.
ALTYS also recently achieved its first international deployment of MICRA at Miami International Airport, which is reflective of the wide-ranging capabilities of its various test solutions that go beyond basic send and receive validation testing.
“MICRA is a digital radio receiver that provides the ability to capture all information transferred over VHF data link and 1030-1090 MHz surveillance systems, such as Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR), Mode S, Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), and Traffic Collision and Avoidance System (TCAS). MICRA is cloud-connected with ALTYS’s COSMOS system through an Internet Protocol (IP) Wide Area Network (WAN) connection to a Central COSMOS server. The COSMOS system provides real-time and fully Web-based access to advanced analytics, tracking, alarms, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor communication, navigation and surveillance systems performance,” said Gonzalez.
MICRA was deployed in Miami to support Air France Industries KLM Engineering subsidiary Barfield, to streamline its maintenance operations. Another 15 MICRA units have also been deployed in Europe to support monitoring activities for a number of airspace operators. The receiver can simultaneously process VDL2 data over up to four frequencies.
Going forward, Gonzalez sees demand increasing for its third-party testing technology used for more Communications Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) testing and validation, as both the Single European Sky and NextGen programs continue to evolve.
“The current growing sophistication of CNS systems used for aviation means there is a growing need to significantly increase validation efforts, as well as to develop equally sophisticated testing environments. We see an increasing demand for reliable, third-party testing solutions that offer a near-operational environment and an unrivaled level of realism and sophistication with regard to testing capabilities,” said Gonzalez.