Developing a Test System for the Motorized Pumps and Reservoirs of the Airbus A380 EBHA

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"We developed a test stand composed of two independent stations equipped with a separate set of mechanical and hydraulic interfaces for both the motorpumps and reservoirs. "

- A. Damiani, Bimal Automazioni

The Challenge:
Developing a configurable, flexible, and reliable control and data acquisition system to perform acceptance test procedures for the motorized pumps and reservoirs of the Airbus A380 Electrical Backup Hydraulic Actuator (EHBA).

The Solution:
Using NI LabVIEW software and the PXI hardware platform to build a fully configurable and powerful test sequencer for data acquisition to meet the test requirements of our customer.

Author(s):
A. Damiani - Bimal Automazioni

Our customer supplies aircraft air management; flight control, actuation, and hydraulic systems; and landing gear to the aviation industry. They asked us to develop a test stand to perform the acceptance test procedures for the motorized pumps and reservoirs of the Airbus A380 EHBA. 

We developed a test stand composed of two independent stations equipped with a separate set of mechanical and hydraulic interfaces for both the motorpumps and reservoirs. The test sequences are composed of a running-in period and functional tests as proof of pressure, leakage, and performance test.

System Design 

We used NI PXI hardware and the LabVIEW graphical programming environment to develop a real-time data acquisition and control system for the test bench and a PC-based graphical user interface. We connected the two units with an Ethernet cable, and to facilitate data communication, we took advantage of the built-in networking features in LabVIEW, including network published shared variables. 

Software Features 

The host application runs on an industrial PC with a user interface that configures the system; performs tests, maintenance, and troubleshooting; stores settings and results in a relational database; and manages alarms and warnings. The application consists of an automatic test sequencer, and it can operate in four different modes: 

  • Automatic mode keeps the testing time and necessary operator actions to a minimum 
  • Manual mode for failure investigations requires a step by step input from the operator during all tests
  • Calibration and maintenance mode calibrates the measuring chain of each channel and troubleshoots actions, so the user can set and adjust the hydraulic valves and electrical components
  • Software editing mode gives the user the opportunity to make changes to the test sequences 

An automatic self-test feature is also provided to check valves and transducers before normal operations start. Supervisors of the test bench can evaluate test results with graphs, data, and reports that are saved at the end of each test sequence on a remote server or locally in PDF and spreadsheet file format. To help the user during manual control maintenance operations, the interface displays an interactive page showing the hydraulic diagram of the bench. 

The real-time application running on the PXI controller realizes high-speed data acquisition and PID closed-loop control of the outputs (setpoints of proportional valves), therefore satisfying the performance requirements. Moreover, we can easily implement communication via CAN bus with the motor controller for the A380 motorized pump using CAN hardware and CAN software libraries. 

The choice of an NI PXI real-time system instead of an industrial PLC system meant we could achieve real-time processing and advanced analysis of acquired data that otherwise would have been time consuming and difficult. Storing large amounts of data is essential to those tests where postprocessing is necessary. 

The complete testing system was designed to be easily upgraded to test new devices with similar design and functionality. Test sequences, parameters, and report templates can be customized to create test procedures for new products. 

Using National Instruments software and hardware, we designed and developed a flexible and reliable testing system that resulted in improved test accuracy and time savings for our customer. We developed the entire project using LabVIEW graphical system design software and reduced costs, making maintenance of the software easier. We are planning to use the same architecture on upcoming application projects.

Author Information:
A. Damiani
Bimal Automazioni
a.damiani@bimal.com

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