Altran will work together with Rapita Systems and the University of Oxford to deliver a National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme funded project to automate the testing of SPARK related software within the aviation industry. The aim of the initiative is to significantly reduce the growing burden of verification and validation costs associated with large software programmes.
The aerospace industry employs around 230,000 and adds around £24 billion to the economy every year. Growing the economic potential of the ecosystem has become a priority for the UK Government. As part of the initiatives aimed at stimulating further growth, the government in partnership with industry launched a £40 million National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) in 2013. The objective of the programme is to support the development of around 100 undeveloped ‘low hanging fruit’ aerospace technologies – creating more than 1,200 jobs in the process. Partners to the programme, which is managed by ADS and rolled out by Regional Aerospace Alliances, include Airbus, Bombardier, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce and Spirit Aerosystems.
One of the projects being worked on is AUTOSAC, an initiative that aims to automate the testing of aerospace software using SPARK*. NATEP recently unveiled that it has granted three firms – Altran, Rapita Systems and the University of Oxford – with funding to deliver the project.
The venture seeks to leverage the partners’ joint capabilities to develop tests for ED-12C/DO-178C applications, with an expectation of realising significant cost savings for end users. The hope for the programme is to reduce the growing verification and validation costs associated with a host of programmes – with potential savings of up to 10% for tests expected where SPARK software is used. According to NATEP, given the size of aerospace programmes, considerable savings may be made.
Stuart Matthews, Product Manager for SPARK at Altran UK, says, “We are delighted to be working with our partners on this exciting research project. The high costs associated with unit testing have long been a problem in the production of high-integrity software. Using SPARK contracts in this innovative way promises to have a significant impact on this key industry issue.”
“Over the next decade the civil aerospace market will see unprecedented growth both in passenger and civil aircraft fleet numbers, which will present the supply chain to Aircraft Original Equipment Manufacturers with a unique challenge in adapting their engineering techniques to match demand", says Mark H. Johnstone, Industry Sector Lead for Aerospace at Altran UK. He adds: "We see innovation as key to this challenge. Working with highly skilled partners will add value to current products and develop new technologies, processes and techniques that will enable our clients to increase production rates, lower costs, reduce lead time to market and, as a result, maintain their competitive advantage.”
* SPARK is a programming language and verification toolset used in the development of high-integrity software.