Avionics testing on small aircraft

David Koppel
22 March, 2017

Much of the testing done on small aircraft requires specialty equipment which tends to be single purpose, bulky and expensive. Yet here are many types of tests that can be performed by generic, multipurpose testers that can be expanded to include more and more capabilities.

For example, testing primary flight displays (PFD's) and multifunction displays (MFD's) requires transmitting different data to see if the displays correctly reflect the data sent. The data may be in the form of ARINC-429 or Serial or Ethernet and a large variety of data types with differing ranges may be necessary to properly test the units.

Flight Management Systems (FMS) testing may require sending simulated flight information with and without errors to check the FMS’s ability to properly handle both normal and error scenarios. For example, if the FMS receives data from multiple sources, the tester may wish to check what happens if one of the sources stops transmitting or if the data from the two sources doesn’t match.

This kind of testing requires the ability to transmit avionics data according to test requirements. This might involve enabling the tester to manually enter specific values or to define a range of values and an update rate with which to cycle through those values.

Excalibur Systems has developed the Lance, a handheld ARINC-429 tester that exhibits these capabilities.

The 429 testers hardware may come in a number of platforms, such as, PDA's, laptops, notebooks, etc. using Excalibur's ARINC-429 USB/Ethernet interface card (DAS-429uNET/RTx).

The Lance 429 Tester application enables you to simulate Airspeed, Altitude and Radio Height on an ARINC-429 bus. You can control both the Data value and the SDI value in the labels sent.

The data values may be set in one of two modes:

• Auto Range mode (default – Figure 6) – Airspeed (Label 206), Altitude (Label 203) and Radio Height (Label 164) are transmitted by means of a preset change rate.

• Fixed Value mode (Figure 7) – The selected values are transmitted continuously.

You can transmit separate values for the left and right sides, and you can transmit Airspeed, Altitude and Radio Height in different modes simultaneously (Auto Range or Fixed Value).

The Lance 429 Tester Main Screen is displayed:

Excalibur has products implementing Serial, Ethernet, CANbus and a variety of other Avionics specifications. Our real expertise, however, is in servicing our customers and providing solutions for their individual needs.


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