Avionics system for demonstrator undergoing first simulation tests

May 2019

Ampyx Power is making progress on the flight computer for AP3, our pre-commercial demonstrator that is currently being built at our workshop. The avionics system is designed for AP3, but also for the scaled up, commercial version of our Airborne Wind Energy System. Ampyx Power has chosen off-the-shelf available hardware for the navigation sensors, board computer and real-time operating system. The control algorithms, board computer software and electronics were designed by the team from scratch. The certifiable avionics system is currently being tested and verified against its design requirements, in order to have it work reliably before the first flights with AP3.

Until AP3 is ready to fly, we use a test setup that simulates flights. The test setup combines an onboard computer, a cutting edge GNSS navigation module with dual-antenna heading support, an IMU to measure acceleration and angular rates, and a computerized air data probe that measures angle of attack (angle at which wind meets the aircraft), altitude and speed.

We’re currently performing tests while driving a van that carries the test setup on the roof. With these tests we can already identify and troubleshoot hardware issues, flight algorithms interface problems, and navigation filter issues. We can also run and debug software, obtain the best configuration set for navigation sensors and we can tune navigation filters.

As soon as we have a new Flight Control Software release we start to test. We analyse all data that come out of the drive tests and implement changes if needed. After the implementation of the changes the test is being performed again to assure that the implemented changes were successful.

Developing and releasing Flight Control Software is an ongoing process. We will therefore continue to perform these drive tests with the van until we can use the hardware and software in the actual AP3 aircraft.

Fahri Akcomak, System Engineer: “The work we’re doing now will enable us to ‘hit the ground running’ as soon as we start our test- and verification program with the AP3 aircraft.”