A data loader is a tool that allows a user to upload new software parts on the embedded computers of an aircraft. A software part consists of executable code or data.
Components of an Avionics Data-Loader Solution
Data loading requires a server containing the parts to be loaded and clients on each embedded computer to receive the part. The server can be located on an embedded computer on the aircraft or on an external computer that the maintenance crew brings to the aircraft.
Avionics Data-Load Standards
The server interacts with clients located on the aircraft via industry-defined protocols. Avionics data loaders are defined by a few different ARINC standards:
- ARINC 429: Defines the physical and electrical interfaces of a two-wire data bus and a data protocol that are used in many, especially older, aircraft.
- ARINC 665: Defines the aircraft industry’s standards for Loadable Software Parts (LSPs) and Media Set Parts (MSPs).
- ARINC 615: Specifies data loading communication over an ARINC 429 bus.
- ARINC 615A: This standard introduces ethernet technologies as the medium to support data-load operations. This enables a transition away from traditional data loaders with specialized hardware and a significant cost decrease.
An ARINC 615A data-loader client and server have four operations outlined in the standard:
- FIND: Identifies target hardware on the network
- INFORMATION: Queries current configuration details of the target hardware
- UPLOAD: Sends files to the target hardware
- DOWNLOAD: Requests files from the target hardware
The image above shows a version of the ARINC 615A protocol stack. The user interacts with the A615A data loader (top left) and is communicating with the A615A target (top right).
As shown, the ethernet-based standard uses UDP for communications with minimal overhead, enabling the use of software on traditional PCs as the data loader. The Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) is used for file transfer, and the FIND command is implemented using UDP datagrams.
Introducing the Performance DataLoaderTM
The Performance DataLoader™ suite of components is ARINC 615, 615A, and ARINC 665 compliant and was developed with modularity, reliability, fast loading speed, and customization in mind.
Resident On-Board Client/Server
For on-board data-load clients and data-load servers, the Performance DataLoader™ components provide a solution that will dramatically reduce development cost and schedule. Performance can assist with the integration of the data loader with platform-specific components to produce the load client or load server that meets your needs.
The Performance Resident On-Board Client/Server solution can potentially save millions of dollars in costs and eliminate years from your schedule. Traditional LRU-embedded data-loader servers and clients are approximately 25,000 and 15,000 source lines of code respectively. Achieving full DO-178C for these components carries price tags in the millions of dollars and extends release timelines by years.
The lab/field loader is an installable, ready-to-use PC application that can perform ARINC 615A operations with compatible targets. The lab/field loader is configurable and provides both an interactive graphical user interface as well as a terminal-based command-line interface and scripting capability to support automated testing of your loadable target.
To learn more about Performance DataLoaderTM suite of products, please view the product page.