Lufthansa Technik develops fully automated cockpit control test system

March 7, 2019
The Robot Controlled Cockpit Electronics Testing, or RoCCET test procedure, uses a fully-automated, custom-designed robot to check the functionality of cockpit LED lights and switches.

Lufthansa Technik, a provider of aircraft maintenance, repairs, overhauls, and modification services, has developed a new, fully-automated test procedure for cockpit electronics testing.

The Robot Controlled Cockpit Electronics Testing, or RoCCET test procedure, uses a fully-automated, custom-designed robot to check the functionality of cockpit LED lights and switches, comparing results to standardized measurement data to ensure compliance with uniform standards and determine when replacements are needed.

Integrated sensors measure force when switches are activated, and cameras from IDS Imaging Development Systems and SVS-Vistek are used to capture display instruments, perform checks for damage, and measure display brightness from multiple angles. The RoCCET system utilizes Vision Development Module software from National Instruments to process camera data.

According to Florian Sell, Senior Engineer Automated Equipment Systems at Lufthansa Technik's Aircraft Components Services division, the RoCCET test procedure will reduce testing times by one to two hours per component. "At the same time, the new procedure provides concrete measurement data in accordance with uniform standards," said Sell. "For example, we now have physical threshold values for the brightness of LEDs. And with the help of data mining, we can determine exactly when an LED has to be replaced."

Lufthansa Technik has conducted research into automated aircraft maintenance at the Institute for Aircraft Production Technology at Hamburg University of Technology and found past success with several robot-based inspection tools. AutoInspect, developed in 2015, is a robot that digitally inspects engine components for cracks using white light interferometry, processing 130 Gb of raw data with every scan of a combustion chamber.

In 2016, the company created an automated process chain for engine component repair called AutoRep. Both systems, working in tandem, went into operative use in mid-2016, according to the company, and in mid-2018 AutoInspect and AutoRep were scheduled to be integrated into a single process chain.

Startup company, founded to research and develop automation solutions for the aviation industry, is a joint venture between Lufthansa Technik and Pepperl+Fuchs, a developer of industrial sensor technology and process automation.

RoCCET is currently in the integration phase and will initially be used for cockpit controls on the Airbus A320 and A350, and Boeing 787 aircraft. Lufthansa Technik says that in the future the RoCCET system may be extended to other cockpit and cabin controls on all aircraft types, at various locations.

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About the Author

Dennis Scimeca

Dennis Scimeca is a veteran technology journalist with expertise in interactive entertainment and virtual reality. At Vision Systems Design, Dennis covered machine vision and image processing with an eye toward leading-edge technologies and practical applications for making a better world. Currently, he is the senior editor for technology at IndustryWeek, a partner publication to Vision Systems Design. 

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