Universal Control and DAQ for Testing Aerospace Hydraulic Systems and Components

Project Features: Hydraulic Systems Testing, Data Acquisition (DAQ), ACS LabVIEW Framework, Open Architecture, Distributed Control System


distributed daq & control, aerospace daq test hil

The Challenge

The client is a leading supplier of a wide array of components and systems for commercial and military aviation, military weapons, marine, and off-road markets around the world.

The manufacturer needed a new control system for a recently redesigned aircraft. The craft’s existing control system had been designed when the plane was a prototype, and nearly a decade later, both hardware and software had become painfully obsolete. It was difficult to find replacement components to maintain hardware, and the test system was too limited to accommodate the aircraft’s redesigned hydraulic system.

The Solution

ACS worked closely with the client’s internal engineers and technicians to draft several iterations of the initial design. The cooperation continued through the preliminary and critical design phases. This deep communication made sure all stakeholders shared a common understanding of the goals, scope, and limitations of the project.

“When we stepped out on the dance floor, we both knew the dance,” ACS Director of Business Development Darryn La Zar said.

The company’s new Universal Control and DAQ System recreates the conditions of real-world applications and gathers data on the hydraulic system’s response. An aircraft’s hydraulic system controls the flight systems that ultimately allow the pilot to steer the vehicle.

ACS designed a data acquisition and control system for the test cell in which engine simulation carts mimic the speed and torque of an aircraft engine through a transmission that drives the hydraulic pumps. ACS created a distributed DAQ and control system, so the company can access sections of the system via panels and conduct tests more efficiently.

To make the test conditions as realistic as possible, the test cell was designed so the components can be laid out in aircraft geometry, using tubing that reflects the volume of oil in the aircraft’s actual system. The IO of a high-speed PXIe-1082 chassis and acquisition cards is synchronized with the IO of five distributed EtherCAT chassis using a PXI-6683 timing and synchronization card. The overall system utilizes ACS’ LabVIEW framework for visual displays, real-time control algorithms, data logging, and test script execution.

Outcome

Besides accommodating the specifications of the redesigned aircraft, the new system provides the client with levels of control and flexibility it was missing. A key component of the project is open architecture software, so the company is able to easily alter the program to accommodate future needs as technology changes.

ACS built the software’s foundation level so the challenges of optimizing it for efficiency have already been addressed. The client has already implemented the solution across two facilities and plans to implement it in a third.

“Because we handled all the underlying challenges, they need fewer highly skilled people to implement and maintain this solution,” La Zar said. “Open architecture means the software is maintainable. It’s providing standardization across divisions, and it solves a significant part of hardware and software obsolescence.”

To maintain FAA certification, aviation manufacturers must keep test systems maintained long after rapidly evolving technology has moved on. The new DAQ is not distributed, but is housed in a single hardware module. Should the software become obsolete, the company can replace just the one module while the rest of the hardware remains active. The flexibility of this system positions the company to attack whatever new challenges future developments may bring.

Key Features

  • Test cell equipment recreates conditions of real-world aerospace applications and gathers data on hydraulic system’s response
  • Distributed DAQ and control system allows access to sections of the system via panels to conduct tests more efficiently
  • Open architecture system provides the company with levels of control and flexibility it was missing

ACS Services

ACS designed a data acquisition and control system for the company’s test cell in which engine simulation carts simulate the speed and torque of an aircraft engine through a transmission that drives the hydraulic pumps. ACS created a distributed DAQ and control system, so the company can access sections of the system via panels and conduct tests more efficiently.


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