Air Transport World

Taking aviation into the mainstream: the 7E7 will dispense with "boutique" aerospace technologies in favor of open systems.(Large Transports)(Boeing)

Beauty is only skin deep, or so the saying goes. So even as Boeing promotes the gee-whiz passenger cabin and sportscar styling of its proposed 7E7, it expects to win over airlines with what's under the hood. "We've developed what we call an open systems architecture," explains Mike Sinnett, chief project engineer for systems. "It's an overall philosophy that is guiding us to select systems elements--from the avionics to the hardware--that are easily upgradeable, allowing for continued improvement and flexibility."

One example of this will be the elimination of the spaghetti junction of wiring common today. In its place is the Common Core System being developed by UK-based Smiths Group. The CCS is the 7E7's "central nervous system," according to Mike Grady, VP-civil and military air transport. Grady, based at Smiths Aerospace in Grand Rapids, Mich., says the CCS will "consolidate into two redundant systems the literally dozens of standalone computers typically scattered around an aircraft. These computers host most of the software applications that control the aircraft's avionics and various utilities." The result will be a reduction from the 80 separate computing functions on the 777 to just 30 on the 7E7. In the cockpit the 7E7 is expected to have just eight line replaceable units, down from 15 on the 777.

The heart of the system is two dual-redundant Common Computing Resources cabinets that will house fault-tolerant computing modules, each with a robust ARINC 653 partitioned software operating environment. An ARINC 664 Deterministic Ethernet--an advanced communications network--connects the CCR to a number of Remote Data Concentrators and the avionics and utilities systems. The architecture is both flexible and scalable, permitting application to other aircraft under development as well as upgrades to functionality of first-generation 7E7s. "Upgrades can be handled in a modular fashion, without significant recertification issues for other hosted functions," says Grady.

"Simply put, what we are doing is providing the Windows-styled interface for all the various avionics suppliers on the 7E7," he adds. …

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