Cockpit Development, Integration, and Verification Testing
A cockpit integration facility is a simulation based lab test facility that serves many purposes including the development, integration, and verification of cockpit and flight deck systems throughout the aircraft development program. There are two common types of cockpit integration facilities found in the civil and military aircraft industry. Although each aircraft company tends to use different names for these labs, they can be recognized as:
- Cockpit Systems Integration and Verification Lab
- Cockpit Concept Development Lab
Both types of facilities combine real-time simulation of flight dynamics and simulation of many aspects of the aircraft with realistic closed-loop stimulus to the flight deck, pilot controls, and systems included in the cockpit integration facility. The ADvantage Framework provides the software platform that layers on top of commercial-off-the-shelf computer equipment to create the simulation and test backbone of the facility.
Cockpit Systems Integration and Verification Lab
The Cockpit Systems Integration and Verification Lab is a facility where real flight deck systems and pilot controls are integrated and placed in a real-time, hardware-in-the-loop environment where the systems are taken through exhaustive and realistic verification testing. Pilot-in-the-loop, and automated (no pilot-in-the-loop) test cases are executed allowing stand-alone behavior and interoperability to be verified against expected behavior during normal and failure-mode flight conditions. Cockpit systems suppliers will participate in many of these test cases to provide the domain expertise required to assess behavior and troubleshoot observed problems.
Cockpit Concept Development Lab
The Cockpit Concept Development Lab is a facility where emulated or mock-up flight deck systems and pilot controls are placed in a real-time, hardware-in-the-loop environment for development and assessment with pilot-in-the-loop as part of an aircraft development process. Because the cockpit concept lab does not use real cockpit systems, this facility represents a lower-cost tool for exploring innovative ways of implementing the cockpit (ex: glass cockpit functionality). As the early development tasks are completed, the Cockpit Concept Development Lab can then be repurposed as a tool for aircraft simulation and flight control law development.
Aircraft Simulation Model Development
In addition to developing and testing cockpit concepts and systems, the cockpit integration facilities provide an important tool for developing and validating the real-time aircraft simulation model that is used in all of the simulation based lab test facilities (ex: iron bird, avionics integration facility). During an aircraft development program, virtually every aspects of the aircraft design will evolve. This design evolution results in a continuously evolving real-time aircraft simulation model. As additional modeling detail and fidelity are added to the aircraft simulation model, a new version of the model is issued and must be validated prior to releasing the model for general use. The cockpit integration facility represents the lowest-cost, high-fidelity, pilot-in-the-loop flight simulator and therefore is ideally suited to perform this man-in-the-loop simulation model validation.
Pilot-in-the-Loop Simulated Flight
Pilot-in-the-loop simulated flight is an important tool for tasks such as: Evaluating the handling qualities of an aircraft design and its fly-by-wire flight control laws; getting a sense of the usability of a glass cockpit layout; assessing the convenience of the positioning and layout of flight deck systems. When compared with using a motion-based flight simulator or a flight test aircraft, the cockpit integration facility is a very inexpensive way to submerse a pilot into highly realistic simulated flight test assessment. In order for this pilot-in-the-loop evaluation to be meaningful, the cockpit simulator must operate with high real-time determinism, good repeatability, and low latency. The ADvantage Framework has been developed for the needs of, and successfully deployed for, industry leading civil and military cockpit integration simulator facilities.
Interconnected Simulation Test Labs
Many of the recent and on-going aircraft development programs have added the ability to connect their cockpit integration facilities to other simulation based lab test facilities. For example, the Cockpit Systems Integration lab may be connected, with appropriate cabling and signal switching, to the Iron Bird simulator. With the two facilities disconnected, each facility may be operated as a separate tool for development, integration, and verification. By connecting the two facilities the combination of a cockpit with full flight deck, pilot controls, and avionics modules is added to aircraft hydraulics, electrical power, and control surface actuation focused test facility. This allows the test scope to extend all the way from pilot controls to the actuation of ailerons, flaps, etc., and expands the scope of interoperability testing. The ADvantage Framework makes it easy to connect multiple distributed real-time simulation facilities using a range of communication interface options.