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How MMIBS was born: From Ground Testing Challenges to Aerospace Solutions

27 July 2023

Introduction

In the realm of aerospace, ensuring the safety and performance of aircraft is critical and requires rigorous testing and verification before an airplane can take flight with passengers and cargo. Ground testing is a vital element of this process, conducted to ensure the proper functioning of aircraft systems and equipment before their maiden flight. Previously, these tasks were performed using expensive, heavy equipment that required high levels of intrusion. However, everything changed with the advent of the Mini-Multi Interface Box Simulator (MMIBS).

The Problem: Intrusive and Costly Ground Testing

Traditional ground testing used to be complex, inefficient, and intrusive, involving the installation of real equipment in the aircraft to simulate flight conditions. Modern aircraft electronic and communication systems consist of multiple interfaces and protocols that need to be tested at different stages of development. This meant that engineers and technicians had to connect and disconnect numerous devices, consuming a considerable amount of time and increasing the likelihood of errors. Additionally, each aircraft manufacturer had its own testing methods, making standardization and collaboration in the industry difficult. This led to high costs and increased complexity in the implementation of tests.

The Birth of MMIBS

To address these challenges, Airbus Defence and Space, along with Skylife Engineering, devised an innovative solution: the Mini-Multi Interface Box Simulator (MMIBS). The goal was to develop a compact, portable, and low-power device that could perform functional testing and simulations of aeronautical equipment through commonly used communication interfaces in the industry.

The Development Methodology

The development of MMIBS followed the Systems Engineering V-model methodology. Various phases were undertaken, from concept analysis to prototype verification testing. Airbus handled the concept definition, specifications, and verification, while Skylife was responsible for the development and manufacturing of the product.

Features and Evolution of MMIBS

MMIBS quickly became a crucial solution in aerospace ground testing due to its outstanding features, including:
  • Compact and Portable: MMIBS measures 120x120x120 mm and weighs 1200 g, making it easy to transport and use in various environments.
  • Versatile Interfaces: MMIBS is capable of working with a variety of aeronautical communication interfaces, including AFDX, CAN BUS, ARINC 429, MIL-STD-1553, RS-422, RS-232, RS-485, Discrete and Analog I/O, and RVDT (Rotary Variable Differential Transformer) reading capabilities.
  • Intuitive Python Scripting: The system is highly configurable and reprogrammable through intuitive Python-based scripting, facilitating the rapid creation of tests and simulations.
  • User-Friendly Interface: MMIBS features an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows data reading and simulation in various formats.
  • Network Operation: MMIBS can be controlled via Wi-Fi, enabling the operation of multiple MMIBS units in parallel to cover complex testing scenarios.

The Impact of MMIBS in Aerospace Industry

MMIBS has proven to be a valuable tool for ground testing military and commercial aircraft. Its ability to perform non-intrusive tests and simulations of aeronautical equipment has significantly improved efficiency and reduced costs associated with ground testing. Furthermore, its portability and ease of use make it a versatile solution for various aerospace applications.
 
In summary, MMIBS has evolved from its conception to become a crucial solution in aerospace ground testing. Its compact design, versatility in interacting with multiple interfaces, and ease of use have revolutionized testing and maintenance of systems in military and commercial aircraft. MMIBS serves as a prime example of how innovation can tackle complex challenges and enhance efficiency in the aerospace industry.

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Skylife Engineering S. L. is an Andalusian company that develops technological innovation with a high specialization in aerospace engineering applied to the aviation industry and other sectors, with the aim of offering solutions with a positive impact on society.

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