System Test Stations for Aircraft Power Generation Systems

Project Features: Hardware-in-the-loop (HiL System), Real-time Data Acquisition and Control Hardware, Software Application Development, NI PXI Real-time Controller; NI EtherCAT-based Digital and Analog IO Modules, Simulate Hydraulic Control Modules of New Aircraft, Control Hydraulic Power Generation System


The Challenge

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 was the OEM for an aerospace client developing new aircraft designs. ACS was brought on to design and build four test stations that could simulate the hydraulic control modules of a new aircraft and could control and acquire data on the hydraulic power generation system. The systems were designed to interface with all the other vehicle subsystems, which our client assembled in the lab as a single, integrated unit. A pilot and copilot could then “fly” the new aircraft in a simulated environment to test the systems individually and as a complete unit.

The Solution

ACS created a test station consisting of a real-time controller operating the System Environment Model (SEM) and the Hydraulic Control Module (HCM). The SEM system uses an NI™ PXI real-time controller, PXI-based digital and analog IO modules, and NI EtherCAT-based digital and analog IO modules.

The test station gives the client the flexibility to swap out models and physical parts at any time and test the impact on the rest of the system. The station was built on a defined common architecture for communication over ARINC429, enabling it to interact dynamically with the other subsystems and models.

The Outcome

Besides controlling and collecting data on the hydraulic system, the test station is the hardware in the loop (HiL), model in the loop (MiL), and software in the loop (SiL) simulation system. It gives the client the ability to simulate virtual and physical faults in the hydraulic control modules such as short to battery, short to ground, or open circuit. In this way, the client can test the interaction between hardware and software, to ensure they find the optimal components before building a physical prototype.

Key Features

  • Real-time controller deterministically operating the System Environment Model (SEM) and the Hydraulic Control Module (HCM).
  • Defined common architecture for communication over ARINC429, enabling it to interact dynamically with the other subsystems and models.
  • Test station is the hardware in the loop (HiL), model in the loop (MiL), and software in the loop (SiL) simulation system.

ACS Services

  • Collaborative test system design
  • Factory acceptance testing for fully validating electrical and software functionality
  • Engineering support for specification revisions
  • Manufacturing and mock-up at ACS facility
  • Software development
  • Factory Acceptance Testing
  • Installation and commissioning

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