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Transferring Securely and Robustly

The aerospace industry is known for its precision and robustness. Be it the fuselage design or the piece of code that operates the seat lamps. Flight and cabin systems, which have been an integral part of the plane, have long evolved into full-fledged digital systems.
With the increased availability of affordable connectivity options in modern commercial aviation, next-generation in-flight- and cabin systems are cropping up. In turn, these need to be supported by a next-generation content delivery system. A system capable of automatic deployment of services, utilization of multiple channels of communication channels and automatically deploying services while not forgetting data synchronization based on prioritization and economics.
Traditionally, Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over VHF has been the only medium of communication to and from the aircraft. However, the data requirements of a modern airliner are pushing the traditional system to its limits.
The available communication pipes at the gate are both limited in capacity and expensive, thus critical data decisions have to be. With the alternative being mid-air transfers which are even more expensive.
To some extent, these bottlenecks can be eased by using modern 4G and 5G mobile communications technologies. Using these technologies will in turn effectively turn the aircraft into an Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

The Challenge

A modern commercial aircraft is composed of hundreds of digital systems communicating between themselves and with on-ground servers to ensure proper operations and safety.
Systems like predictive maintenance, electronic flight bags, crew services, sensors, weather, traffic, navigation, IFEC and much more. And while new connectivity options can help in dealing with the large amounts of data, the real challenge is integrating them into existing work-flows.
The industry is in a constant search to create passenger value while also reducing operational costs. This is driven, in part, by rising expenses as well as the overall competitive landscape of the industry.
This is where smart integrations and seamlessly working ecosystems of services come into play. Along with data optimization on a per content and per service type, it enables companies to extract maximum usage from existing hardware.
Using existing onboard hardware better is critical as the extended compliance and certification cycles can make it impractical to update hardware every few years. The industry needs to think out-of-the-box to capitalize and maximize their digital infrastructure.

Anatomy of Axinom Content Delivery System

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Figure 1: Axinoms’ content delivery system
Modern software methods based on domain architecture, test-driven workflows, container-based deployment, and orchestration have helped Axinom in creating a unique solution.
It’s a solution that solves the issue of robust and secure data transfer, iterative updates, inter-connectivity, content synchronization, interruption management and much more.
The workflow is handled by two core components:
In-Flight Services (IFS) - Designed to manage all kinds of data, content, and services on- and off-board an aircraft (IFE content, maps, e-commerce, connectivity, catering, ads, etc). It utilizes standardized architecture to simplify and unite various digital passenger-, cabin-, cockpit-, and crew services and give granular control over the services orchestration, deployment, and resources.
Content Delivery System (CDS) – A delivery solution that allows secure and robust bidirectional data synchronization, using standardized communication protocols and mediums. It utilizes different pipes (LAN, Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, satellite networks), manages interruptions, prioritizes important data, and controls data transfer costs. It is built to transfer data fast, securely, and reliably in any environment.

The Benefits

Features that make this solution unique and cogent:
Multiple Connection Pipes
Depending on the available and enabled pipelines, data type, size, criticality and bandwidth, Axinom CDS can pick and choose between the following channels:
  • Cellular 4G/5G
  • Wi-Fi networks
  • Satellite
  • Physical storage devices like USB-stick, HDD, and SSD
  • Personal devices like crew phones, laptops, tablets
Security
For a secure transfer, Axinom CDS encrypts the content using strict encryption standards through the implementation of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
The synchronization process uses an optimal transfer approach together with smart control checksum. This ensures and verifies data integrity.
Robustness
Built using Test-driven development (TDD) and Domain-driven design (DDD) principals ensures that possible errors are dealt with before completing any components.
Service Platform
Axinom CDS enables automatic deployment and orchestration of independent micro-services. Services such as cockpit and cabin data, weather, sensor systems, predictive maintenance and many more.
The ability to integrate independent micro-services is what makes this a perfect companion for a modern connected aircraft.
Scalability
Scaling can be achieved in two ways – horizontally, i.e. running some components in the cloud and some on-premises, or dividing them into two machines.
And vertically, i.e. adding more physical resources such as RAM or CPUs to the server or re-configuring virtual machines.
Bidirectional flow
The solution has been designed to support bidirectional delivery of content from the ground up. Meaning that uploading data from on-ground servers and offloading data from servers onboard the aircraft happens at the same time.
Incremental Updates
To reduce the amount of data and the time needed for the transfers, Axinom CDS compares the content sets and updates only the modifications. In addition, it keeps track of content versions.
Interruption Management
Axinom CDS manages disconnections during synchronization, in case of interruptions. It allows the successfully synchronized part of the content to be already used on board. Moreover, as soon as the allowed connection is available again, it resumes the synchronization.

Innovative Solution for Tomorrow

Moving forward, the need for solutions that enable quick, fast and easy service delivery and deployment is paramount.
The amount of information and agility required from modern aircraft make present-day data delivery systems and methods obsolete.
In contrast to the traditional methods, an automated solution like Axinom CDS can drastically reduce delivery cycles and enable revenue generation through ancillary mediums.
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