With S-PLANE’s Aircraft Automation Solutions, airframes designed for Manned or for Unmanned operation are fully automated to become Unmanned or Optionally Piloted Vehicles (UAVs and OPVs). This includes mini-UAVs, Tactical UAVs and MALE UAVs, and extends to Manned aircraft. The primary building blocks of these solutions are state of the art, reliable and redundant NX-FCU and X-KIT certification-ready products, combined with system engineering, integration, flight testing and certification support.

S-PLANE Flight Control Units (FCUs) were designed and tested according to the principles of exacting standards, including RTCA DO-178, DO-254 and DO-160. Flight control is performed by software developed according to model-based design methods and targeted to reliable hardware operated by industry-leading real-time operating systems, including VxWorks, PikeOS and others. Verification is performed with modern tools and processes to ensure a certification-ready product. Certification packs can be created on demand for every system integration.

Each FCU employs a generic flight control architecture compatible with a large variety of rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. The automation process includes the provision of automated flight modes, mission-level waypoint management, automated take-off and landing, automated on-board systems control and monitoring and many other functions. FCUs are available in a number of build options, specified in collaboration with customers. With S-PLANE’s support, the FCU is quickly adapted to your aircraft as part of a non-recurring engineering effort associated with a new aircraft integration. Replicated installations require only very basic configuration and flight testing.

For rotary-wing and fixed-wing UAV airframes up to the Tactical class S-PLANE employs its NX-SERIES Flight Control Unit (FCU) for automation. The NX-FCU provides redundant flight control, instrumentation/sensors and integrated communication in one certification-ready and compact package not exceeding 1.35kg (heaviest build option).

S-PLANE’s X-KIT for UAV conversion is based on the X-SERIES FCUs and can be integrated onto most manned rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft as well as MALE and sophisticated Tactical UAV aircraft. The X-KIT mainly comprises an X-CUBE (the heart of the kit), an Engage/Disengage Unit (EDU) and flight instrumentation/sensors to provide a certification-ready Automation Solution with up to triplex redundancy for all flight critical elements under its control. The OPV version of the X-KIT employs the EDU, while the UAV version does not. The EDU facilitates electro-mechanical switch-over between pilot and autopilot control of the aircraft. The EDU, combined with proper servo selection, guarantees complete electrical and mechanical isolation of automation equipment while an on-board pilot operates the aircraft. The X-KIT is compatible with high quality redundant servo mechanisms, guaranteeing safe operation. It also serves as a Power Distribution Unit with multiple fully controlled and independent safety-critical power buses. On-board functions normally managed by the pilot are controlled and automated via the X-KIT. Missions can be performed in fully autonomous mode, where take-off, flight and landing are managed via a mission-level control interface. Remote C2 operators can operate the aircraft in fly-by-wire remote piloting mode (with the Remote Piloting Unit (RPU) -see Ground Control Solutions), taking advantage of the flight safety and protection systems offered by the redundant on-board flight control unit.

Payload Management within the X-KIT is provided by the Airborne Data Terminal (ADT) within the X-CUBE. Sophisticated EO/IR, Radar, SigInt, WAS and Transponder payloads interface to the X-CUBE. This appliance provides state of the art data compression, encryption, recording and routing functionality as well as RF link management to make optimal use of Line of Sight (LOSCom) and Satellite Communication (SatCom) links. It has processing power to spare for complex data and signal processing and fusion tasks customized for S-PLANE’s clients. As an example, the X-CUBE Lite easily captures 4 EO/IR HD-SDI and composite video streams, plus a number of additional Ethernet streams. It encrypts them, records them in high definition, transcodes them to lower bandwidth encrypted streams and manages the transmission of these streams via variable bit-rate communication links to remote ground stations in real-time, with minimum latency.

Automation Solutions are supported by sophisticated Simulation Solutions, including Flight and Mission Simulation and Hardware-In-the-Loop Simulation (HILS) for integration testing. Systems are integrated to serve various ISR Aircraft Applications using S-PLANE’s combined Automation, Communication, Ground Control and Simulation Solutions. S-PLANE Solutions are also compatible with other largely STANAG 4586 compliant sub-systems.

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