The frequency and density of modern air traffic would not be possible without accurate navigation information and positional data.

The Project

Our client, a leading supplier of ground-based air navigation aids, have a programme of ongoing maintenance and development of the front-end processing software for their direction finding (DF) product.

The DF system provides accurate navigation information including positional data without the need for special equipment other than standard VHF or UHF radio systems.

Our client needed a software partner who understood advanced real-time distributed systems to work alongside their software team.

Our Role

We have now worked with our client as a software partner for a number of years, providing advanced software engineering services directly to the client as the project needs have demanded. Our engineers were initially deployed as a software development sub-team, working closely with the client’s systems and project engineers.

We supported the main ongoing activities, including:

  • diagnosis and resolution of fault reports in the existing software system
  • specification and estimation of new features required by new contract bids
  • development and validation of new features required by new contract wins

Over the years we have provided a varying engineering load as demanded by project activity.

By ensuring the continuity of the engineers providing the service, we have been able to build up considerable knowledge of the DF software systems.

As a result, we have been able to ensure a consistent and rapid response to ongoing project demands as the need arises.

We have been involved with the operating system interfacing and process communications, maintaining a C++ framework that enables them to run their application on QNX.

We have also been asked to become involved with new projects which prolong the life of the DF product as the underlying hardware evolves or earlier components become obsolete. We have been tasked with the porting of their QNX-based product to other platforms, including the development of bootable QNX images, and drivers, etc.

In addition, we have provided technical consultancy on an ad-hoc basis, allowing the client to respond to customer enquiries, particularly on new project bids, about new technologies.

The Technology

The direction finding front-end processing software system is a management system for single or multi-site management of direction finding equipment. It scales effectively from a single site installation through to significant multi-site installations, with remote access facilities and sites requiring network overview facilities.

Additional software components can be attached to the front-end processor network to provide monitoring of active bearings, auto-triangulation of transmitting aircraft, and many other features.

The core software is written in C++ and runs on the QNX Unix-like real time operating system. The software system leverages the power of the QNX QNET native network protocol to provide transparent distributed processing throughout the front-end processor network.

The Benefit

The long-term relationship we have with our client and their software ensures the continuity of knowledge and expertise.

We were able to offer our client a specialist skill set, including our experience with distributed and real-time operating systems such as QNX.

We have been able to provide an independent peer review of their system and software architecture and engineering processes.

We have enabled our client to respond quickly to changes in demand and workload and to maintain and progress their successful product.

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