One of the largest maintenance and logistics centers for USA government aircraft has selected Moxa as a supplier of serial bus communication components for their next generation of black box testing stations. Moxa will be supplying 200 NPort serial-to-Ethernet servers to connect the various testing devices to a PC for data recording, analysis, and reporting.
The project to develop a new black box testing station was initiated nine years ago to address the challenge of repairing and updating the wide range of units in service. At the time, around 300 unique and often antiquated testers were used to verify black box operation, causing increasingly severe deployment issues and bottlenecks. Operators faced a high number of specialized testers, the need for highly technical training for each type of tester, and the lack of back-up options when a tester failed. Some of these testers were one-of-a-kind units designed for older aircraft that were no longer being manufactured but would remain in service for many years. As manufacturer support ended and specialized engineers faced retirement, the knowledge required to operate some of these testers was in danger of being lost.
Engineers at the aircraft maintenance center decided to implement a flexible universal tester that would rely on standard testing devices, sensors, and measuring instruments that connected to a PC. The PC would be programmed with standard tests that could apply to nearly any type of black box, and black boxes with different interfaces could be connected through the use of special interface adaptors. This solution would provide a standard testing platform that all operators could easily train on, regardless of the specific black box model or manufacturer. Furthermore, the platform could easily be expanded and upgraded with new testing programs, new testing equipment, and new interface adaptors.
After a successful launch of the new testing platform, there was strong demand to expand its use to other facilities and expand the platform’s functional capability. The NPort units from Moxa are part of a planned expansion of deployment and functionality that will enable the aircraft maintenance center to retire at least 75% of their legacy testers. This expansion requires each testing stationto acquireadditional terminal server capability to connect new testing devices and enable more types of tests to be conducted. Through a competitive effort, Moxa’s NPort terminal server was found to satisfy the serial bus communication needs, including high reliability, high throughput, high port count, and ease of integration.
In our testing, we have found Moxa products to be extremely durable and professional grade, according to one of the testing engineers. After working closely with the Moxa team, I was even more impressed by their highly professional knowledge, quick response times, and willingness to assist us with programming libraries and firmware deployment.
Filed Under: Networks • connectivity • fieldbuses