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Title: Fault management via dynamic reconfiguration for integrated modular avionics
Author: Hubbard, Peter D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 1171
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2015
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The purpose of this research is to investigate fault management methodologies within Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) systems, and develop techniques by which the use of dynamic reconfiguration can be implemented to restore higher levels of systems redundancy in the event of a systems fault. A proposed concept of dynamic configuration has been implemented on a test facility that allows controlled injection of common faults to a representative IMA system. This facility allows not only the observation of the response of the system management activities to manage the fault, but also analysis of real time data across the network to ensure distributed control activities are maintained. IMS technologies have evolved as a feasible direction for the next generation of avionic systems. Although federated systems are logical to design, certify and implement, they have some inherent limitations that are not cost beneficial to the customer over long life-cycles of complex systems, and hence the fundamental modular design, i.e. common processors running modular software functions, provides a flexibility in terms of configuration, implementation and upgradability that cannot be matched by well-established federated avionic system architectures. For example, rapid advances of computing technology means that dedicated hardware can become outmoded by component obsolescence which almost inevitably makes replacements unavailable during normal life-cycles of most avionic systems. To replace the obsolete part with a newer design involves a costly re-design and re-certification of any relevant or interacting functions with this unit. As such, aircraft are often known to go through expensive mid-life updates to upgrade all avionics systems. In contrast, a higher frequency of small capability upgrades would maximise the product performance, including cost of development and procurement, in constantly changing platform deployment environments. IMA is by no means a new concept and work has been carried out globally in order to mature the capability. There are even examples where this technology has been implemented as subsystems on service aircraft. However, IMA flexible configuration properties are yet to be exploited to their full extent; it is feasible that identification of faults or failures within the system would lead to the exploitation of these properties in order to dynamically reconfigure and maintain high levels of redundancy in the event of component failure. It is also conceivable to install redundant components such that an IMS can go through a process of graceful degradation, whereby the system accommodates a number of active failures, but can still maintain appropriate levels of reliability and service. This property extends the average maintenance-free operating period, ensuring that the platform has considerably less unscheduled down time and therefore increased availability. The content of this research work involved a number of key activities in order to investigate the feasibility of the issues outlined above. The first was the creation of a representative IMA system and the development of a systems management capability that performs the required configuration controls. The second aspect was the development of hardware test rig in order to facilitate a tangible demonstration of the IMA capability. A representative IMA was created using LabVIEW Embedded Tool Suit (ETS) real time operating system for minimal PC systems. Although this required further code written to perform IMS middleware functions and does not match up to the stringent air safety requirements, it provided a suitable test bed to demonstrate systems management capabilities. The overall IMA was demonstrated with a 100kg scale Maglev vehicle as a test subject. This platform provides a challenging real-time control problem, analogous to an aircraft flight control system, requiring the calculation of parallel control loops at a high sampling rate in order to maintain magnetic suspension. Although the dynamic properties of the test rig are not as complex as a modern aircraft, it has much less stringent operating requirements and therefore substantially less risk associated with failure to provide service. The main research contributions for the PhD are: 1. A solution for the dynamic reconfiguration problem for assigning required systems functions (namely a distributed, real-time control function with redundant processing channels) to available computing resources whilst protecting the functional concurrency and time critical needs of the control actions. 2. A systems management strategy that utilises the dynamic reconfiguration properties of an IMA System to restore high levels of redundancy in the presence of failures. The conclusion summarises the level of success of the implemented system in terms of an appropriate dynamic reconfiguration to the response of a fault signal. In addition, it highlights the issues with using an IMA to as a solution to operational goals of the target hardware, in terms of design and build complexity, overhead and resources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: EPSRC ; BAE Systems
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: IMA ; Avionics ; Fault management ; Distributed control ; Dynamic reconfiguration