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Software management for all aircraft types

Today's aircraft have a multitude of complex electronic onboard systems. These are increasingly configured for their purpose using software. The systems, which in some cases are multiply redundant, reduce pilot workload and demonstrably increase safety in air transport. They are found in all flight-related areas such as communication, navigation, flight control systems and management systems. To reproduce the desired functionality software is required as well as the appropriate hardware. This is updated at regular intervals, sometimes at short notice. For example the digital map material necessary for flight management systems is updated every 28 days.

For older aircraft, the software is uploaded via diskettes which are increasingly difficult to obtain on the market. On the other hand the software for aircraft of the latest generation is loaded in the cockpit using current data media such as CD, DFD or USB stick, via the maintenance laptop. Depending on the aircraft configuration, it may also be possible to obtain the software wirelessly via WLAN. Whatever the method, a constantly increasing flood of data has to be mastered. Whereas the software necessary, for example, for a Boeing 737 Classic extends to just ten part numbers, in the case of the Airbus A321 it is already 25, but on an Airbus A380 there are no fewer than 800 part numbers distributed over 1200 items.

In order to be able to offer a single software management system for both the older generation of aircraft types and also current and future generations, Lufthansa Technik has developed eEnabled Software Management in collaboration with innovation partners Corena Deutschland GmbH and TechSAT GmbH. This replaces the outdated floppy disk drive in the cockpit with a contemporary, standard interface. It permits a variety of mobile devices to connect to aircraft systems for the purposes of loading software. Moreover, several different models, known as Portable Data Loaders (PDL), that satisfy the diverse requirements of airlines of every size have been developed. The solution developed specifically for the management of software configurations and the software itself closes another gap. Existing management systems, such as manage/m®, AMOS, Trax, can be integrated into this process for the purposes of exchanging various information.

Because the solution is suitable for all aircraft types irrespective of model and age, the innovative eEnabled Software Management can be used universally. In this way customers can cover all their software management needs for both their existing and future aircraft fleets. Consequently they need just one tool for all their aircraft – "one fits all". eEnabled Software Management does not just reduce the hitherto high costs of logistics and work scopes, but because it loads about 40 percent more quickly, it requires a lot less aircraft downtime to use.  In this way Lufthansa Technik is already today optimally equipped for tomorrow's software management requirements.