Real-time operating system to run safety-critical aircraft display

By Control Engineering Staff May 30, 2006

San Jose, CA —A real-time operating system (RTOS) from LynuxWorks Inc . will power the panoramic cockpit display system for Lockheed Martin ‘s F-35 joint-strike fighter aircraft. L-3 Communications Display Systems has chosen the LynxOS-178 for the subsystem, which delivers information for all the major functions of the F-35, including flight and sensor displays, communication, radio and navigation systems, and an identification system that gives the pilot total situational awareness.

L-3 Display Systems said it chose the DO-178B-certifiable RTOS because of its adherence to open standards, Linux compatibility, the interoperability of a POSIX (portable operating system for UNIX) API, and support for the ARINC-653 specification. LynuxWorks will also deliver an embedded software product with a complete set of artifacts, along with its engineering services. LynxOS-178 was recently awarded the first Reusable Software Component letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.

DO-178B is a safety critical standard for developing avionics software systems developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) and the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment. POSIX is a set of programming interface standards for application development controlled by the Open Group , a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium promoting integrated information based on open standards and global interoperability. The ARINC-653 spec and associated APEX interface are designed for the system partitioning and scheduling required in safety-critical systems. POSIX and ARINC are open industry standards that protect software applications for incurring rewrites or recertification when migrating from one generation of hardware to the next.

Based on open standards, the LynxOS-178 is said to provide security through virtual machine brick-wall partitions that make it impossible for system events in one partition of the RTOS to interfere with events in another. The F-35 is a next-generation, supersonic stealth aircraft designed to replace a wide array of existing fighters.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel , senior editor