Integrated Modular Avionics
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Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) represent real-time computer network airborne systems. This network consists of a number of computing modules capable of supporting numerous applications of differing criticality levels.
The IMA concept proposes an integrated architecture with application software portable across an assembly of common hardware modules. An IMA architecture imposes multiple requirements on the underlying Operating System.
It is believed that the IMA concept originated with the Avionics design of the Fourth generation jet fighters. It has been in use in fighters such as Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35, or Dassault Aviation Rafale in the beginning of the '90s. Standardization efforts were ongoing at this time (see ASAAC or STANAG 4626), but no final documents were issued then.
First uses for this concept were in development for business jets and regional jets at the end of 1990s and were seen flying at the beginning of 2000s, but it had not been yet standardized.
The concept was then standardized and migrated to the commercial Airliner arena in the end of the 2000s (Airbus A380 then Boeing 787).
IMA modularity simplifies the development process of avionics software :
- As the structure of the modules network is unified, it is mandatory to use a common API to access the hardware and network resources, thus simplifying the hardware and software integration.
- IMA concept also allows the Application developers to focus on the Application layer, reducing the risk of defaults in the lower-level software layers.
- As modules often share an extensive part of their hardware and lower-level software architecture, maintenance of the modules is easier than with previous specific architectures.
- Applications can be reconfigured on spare modules if the module that support them is detected faulty during operations, increasing the overall disponibility of the avionics functions.
Communication between the modules can use an internal high speed Computer bus, or can share an external network, as of ARINC 429 or AFDX.
It must be noted that there is no overall hardware or software standard that defines all the mandatory components used in an IMA architecture. However, parts of the API involved in an IMA network has been standardized, such as:
Examples of IMA architecture
Examples of aircraft avionics that uses IMA architecture :
IMA Publications & Whitepapers
- "Transitioning from Federated Avionics Architectures to Integrated Modular Avionics", Christopher B. Watkins, Randy Walter, 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Dallas, Texas, October 2007.
- "Advancing Open Standards in Integrated Modular Avionics: An Industry Analysis", Justin Littlefield-Lawwill, Ramanathan Viswanathan, 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Dallas, Texas, October 2007.
- "Application of a Civil Integrated Modular Architecture to Military Transport Aircraft", R. Ramaker, W. Krug, W. Phebus, 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Dallas, Texas, October 2007.
- "Integrating Modular Avionics: A New Role Emerges", Richard Garside, Joe F. Pighetti, 26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Dallas, Texas, October 2007.
- "Integrated Modular Avionics: Managing the Allocation of Shared Intersystem Resources", Christopher B. Watkins, 25th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Portland, Oregon, October 2006.
- "Modular Verification: Testing a Subset of Integrated Modular Avionics in Isolation", Christopher B. Watkins, 25th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), Portland, Oregon, October 2006.
- "Certification Concerns with Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) Projects", J. Lewis, L. Rierson, 22nd Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC), October 2003.
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Published - July 2009