Program Overview

The C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) was initiated to modernize, standardize and reduce total ownership costs for the Air Force Hercules fleet. It consolidates multiple avionics systems from various C-130 models into one common core avionics suite. The modern digital glass cockpit features six (6) Multi-Function Displays (MFDs), pilot and co-pilot Head Up Displays (HUDs), two Communication and Navigation Control Panels (CNCPs), and Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS). The central element of Boeing’s AMP configuration is communication, navigation, surveillance/air Traffic Management compliance, without which the C-130 fleet would be prohibited from certain worldwide air-navigation routes. The Air Force at Edwards, AFB, CA modified three test C-130 aircraft with Teletronics and Zodiac instrumentation to collect data from various analog, digital and video sensors as well as multiple MIL-STD-1553, Serial and Ethernet avionics buses. Similar instrumentation was also used to collect data for the simulation labs at the Boeing Facility in Long Beach, CA and San Antonio, TX.

Challenges

The EMC FTRSEG group in Irvine, CA was tasked to develop a system which could process the IRIG-106 Chapter 10 data produced by instrumentation systems on board the test aircraft. The system needed to allow the test engineers to:

  • manage parameter information and configuration changes.
  • define algorithms for converting the raw IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data to
  • data which engineers could interpret easily.
  • time correlate parameter data with microsecond accuracy.
  • store the raw IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data and processed Engineering Unit data.
  • replicate the raw IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data at both Edwards AFB, CA and Boeing in Long Beach, CA
  • create job requests with a graphical easy-to-use interface on any workstation.
  • display data in real-time onboard the aircraft.

EMC Solution

EMC FTRSEG customized the Instrumentation, Loading, Integration, Analysis and Display
(ILIAD) MS SQL Server Edition software to meet these special needs. This software, developed
for the Microsoft Windows Server platform was installed on primary and secondary
servers at Edwards AFB, CA. and Long Beach, CA. The engineers could access and submit job requests via the web enabled user interface using private networks. The raw Chapter 10 data resided locally on the server. The test program collected anywhere from 100-200 GB of data per flight. Nearly 100 TB of raw data was accumulated with hundreds of flights. All of the data processing was done from the ILIAD software installed on the server. The data of interest was small so engineers could submit a job request via the ILIAD web interface (WebQLS) and get the results that they need at remote locations within minutes.

Additional capabilities were also developed to allow the engineers to process data in real-time directly from the Chapter 10 recorders onboard the aircraft.

Conclusion

Boeing successfully completed the first test flight of the U.S. Air Force’s third C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) aircraft on January 17, 2009, three weeks ahead of schedule. The flight marked another milestone for the most comprehensive Hercules avionics modification ever conducted.

ILIAD WebQLS was used by more than 60 flight test engineers of various disciplines to process data and distribute it for further analysis. Having quick access to the data, allowed engineers to keep the overall production program moving along on schedule. The Air Force and Boeing signed a contract on Sept. 30, 2009 for the first two Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) AMP kits and later ordered several more.

ILIAD WebQLS has proven to be a valuable asset and the program is in the process of training new users
for C130 AMP follow on testing in early 2011. Additionally, it has paved the way for engineers of a
different helicopter flight test program which faced similar challenges.