Thales uses its iDeck simulation environment for validation and de-risking in the early stages of development. Configured here to resemble the A350 flight deck, it is used to help Airbus pilots and engineers evaluate cockpit concepts.
The value of Thales equipment for the A350 is 10 times what it was on the A380 and includes the two biggest packages after engines: the cockpit control and display system (CDS), including six 13- by 8.5-inch LED backlit displays; two keyboard and cursor control devices (KCCUs) and optional dual head-up displays (HUDs), and the cabin electronics and infotainment (IFE and connectivity) system; navigation equipment and flight controls, including the first selection of Thales’ air data and inertial reference unit (ADIRU).
The displays are 65 percent bigger than those in the A380 but 28 percent lighter, and the display computers also generate the imagery for the HUDs and onboard airport navigation system (OANS). The navigation system will support required navigation performance (RNP) 0.1 anywhere in the world.
Sebastien Perrignon, A350 deputy program manager, said the company has adopted a new way of working with suppliers, selecting them earlier, specifying more comprehensive and integrated packages and working more closely with them. “We are operating as an extended enterprise, using the same methods and tools to avoid the sort of problems we had in the past,” he said.
The enhanced integrated modular avionics architecture uses 29 common remote data concentrators (CRDCs) spread around the aircraft. Located as close as possible to the various sensors, they collate and distribute sensor information, saving the miles of wire that would be required for traditional discrete connections.
“The challenge is to trade off between the number of boxes, which have to manage many interfaces, and different versions of the box,” Perrignon said. “We worked with the airframer to find the best compromise.” The ideal would be 29 of the same box, but there are actually two types, itself a big challenge, especially when many are installed in environmentally harsh areas.
The CRDCs communicate via the same Rockwell Collins AFDX (avionics full-duplex switched Ethernet) switches used on the A380 with 21 central processing and input/output (CPIOM) modules. There are only two types of CPIOM compared with seven on the A380, but they handle approximately 30 percent more functions. More integrated boards mean each CPIOM has only two boards instead of four, but they provide twice the processing power for an 8-percent weight reduction per shipset. Thales itself produces the AFDX switches for the Superjet.