The National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) is a £40m technology development programme derived from a bid made by the Aerospace Growth Partnership to the government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). The programme is aimed at small and medium sized suppliers to help them develop their own innovative technologies for the aerospace sector in order to enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business with higher tier companies on a global basis. It is managed at national level by ADS (UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries trade organisation), and organised throughout the UK by the regional aerospace alliances.
In response to NATEP’s first call for proposals in 2013, Test and Verification Solutions (T&VS) of Bristol, UK, a leader in software test and hardware verification solutions, submitted a response to extend its asureSIGN™ requirements and verification tool for the aerospace sector, in particular to provide support for the software and hardware avionics safety standards, DO-178C and DO-254. The response was submitted in conjunction with Bristol University as an academic partner, and with Rolls-Royce as an end user partner. Following a short-listing of proposals and a formal presentation of the asureSIGN concept to a NATEP assessment panel, the T&VS-led team was awarded a grant to extend the asureSIGN technology for the aerospace sector in April 2014.
- “In selecting T&VS’ asureSIGN proposal we felt it was important to remain faithful to the remit of the technology development programme. Essentially, that is to help small and medium sized businesses to develop innovative technologies for the aerospace sector to improve their ability to win new business with higher tier companies in the UK and globally. We felt that T&VS’ proposal strongly achieved that.” said NATEP’s Regional Technology Manager, Dr. Edward Elias.
The asureSIGN concept addresses the gap between the capture and tracing of functional requirements available in industry leading products (such as DOORS™ from IBM and Reqtify from Dassault Systemes) and the testing capability provided by a whole host of solutions. For every functional requirement, asureSIGN automatically tracks the status of verification tasks such as tests, coverage and assertions to assess the quality of verification activities and relates these tasks to product requirements over time, so that requirements-based verification and the verification activities can be more effectively managed. By tracking, in a simple and cohesive manner, how a project is progressing with respect to its requirements and their related verification activities, and presenting the information succinctly as a series of dashboards, it addresses the needs of both management and developers/testers.
Over the last two years, asureSIGN has been developed with a number of semiconductor partners and in close cooperation with Infineon, a major European semiconductor manufacturer focussed on the automotive sector, to improve requirements-based verification management in semiconductor design and development in order to more easily demonstrate conformance to the automotive safety standard, ISO26262.
T&VS expects to deliver the extended asureSIGN aerospace-focussed package in late 2015. The objective of the 15 month NATEP project is to extend asureSIGN to fully support requirements-based verification for software and hardware in accordance with the DO-178 and DO-254 avionic safety standards, for the benefit of the aerospace sector. As a result, asureSIGN will also be uniquely placed to combine both software testing and hardware verification tracking onto a single platform, allowing clients to more efficiently manage the verification of their products that increasingly combine complex software and hardware.
T&VS’ academic partner, Bristol University, will lead the research effort to identify new asureSIGN features that need to be developed in order to support the software and hardware avionics safety standards, while Rolls-Royce will play a key role in providing domain expertise and will trial the new asureSIGN on one of its avionics projects. During the development of the new asureSIGN features, which will follow an agile approach, both partners will be supporting elaboration and prioritisation of features and will be closely involved in reviews of asureSIGN releases. The project will be monitored on behalf of ADS, which manages NATEP, by the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), the trade association that champions and supports the interests of the aerospace and defence industry in the South West of England.
By providing better control of test and verification activities, experience in the automotive sector has already shown that savings can be made in both product development costs and time-scales, and the effort to demonstrate compliance with safety standards can be significantly reduced. This project aims to bring these benefits to the UK and wider aerospace sector. In addition, the project will further develop UK expertise in requirements-based verification of complex systems, promote research into this area and strengthen academic links with industry.
The National Aerospace Technology Programme (NATEP) is aimed at aerospace supply chain companies including SMEs to help them develop innovative technologies while enhancing their technology management capabilities, increasing their ability to win new business with higher tier companies anywhere in the world. NATEP is a £40m three-year programme funded by the government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) – its objective is to deliver 100 novel technologies through collaborative projects within the UK aerospace supply chain. NATEP is managed by ADS, actively supported by the regional aerospace alliances and sponsored by the UK aerospace Primes and Tier 1s.
The West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) is a membership trade association that champions and supports the interests of the aerospace and defence industry in the South West of England. The forum leads the sector in delivering national supply chain initiatives, including NATEP, which connect the SME community to the Primes.