AES has research and development relationships with several universities and research institutions. We are working on a research project titled “Aluminium Harnesses for Satellites” (AlSa). This research project aims to utilize aluminium cables as, power supply lines, in satellites. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi). Aluminium cables have a major advantage over conventional copper conductors because of their light weight. AES is using its long-term experience in aviation and applying it to the demands of the satellite field to explore durable components and the use of aluminium harnesses and connection technologies. The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) is also giving developmental support and conducting studies about suitable materials and surface conditions. Satellite technology is key to global communication, and the implementation of this developmental work will represent a major milestone in this field. A further project involves a frequency converter and universally applicable single-phase voltage converter, based on the Bridgeless Power Factor Correction (BPFC). The goal of this project is to develop a highly mature, in seat power supply unit (ISPS), with the single-phase output voltage of 115 V AC, or 230 V AC for the aviation industry. Major challenges are involved in this work, as the ISPS must be: efficient, lightweight, and compact for a limited installation space. The new generation of ISPS will be able to meet a wide range of customer requirements, owing to the fully digital control loop and resulting choice of parameterisation. The” Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft” recently awarded AES GmbH the seal of approval with “Innovative Through Research” for its impressive R&D work.
Controls Competence Centre
Over the past 10 years AES has developed several products, a number controlled by a microcontroller or others using programmable logic (e.g. FPGA). We apply these products to a broad range of applications. The move to digitally controlled products started with the RGB spotlights for colour lighting applications. The spotlight features a 32-bit microcontroller, which controls and monitors the light output while software compensates for colour deviations caused by operating temperature and aging. AES developed and documented the embedded software in accordance with the RTCA DO-178B standard (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification). A major showpiece within the AES Light System is a configurable RGBW Light Controller, developed and approved for single-aisle, long-range and A380 aircrafts. We tailor the light controller functions to meet customer requirements, using application specific software and parameter configurations. This flexibility makes the light controller a versatile control device for AES LED light products. One of our earlier customer project involved the hardware and software design and development of a complex component for an in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. This included the integration of a commercial Gigabit Ethernet switch module. The next generation of this component will feature optical 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports to support high-bandwidth IFE backbone connections. In another project, AES designed and developed a custom water control system for VIP aircrafts. The system consisted of a main controller unit and touch screen computer to serve as an interface to communicate over a serial data bus. Rather than software, programmable logic drives the core functions of the main controller. This allowed it to meet all the requirements, e.g. controlling many valves simultaneously. Other existing and future projects address the areas of power management and digitally controlled power supplies.
Power Supplies Competence Centre
The design and development of power supplies is just one of the main competencies at AES. We benefit from over 20 years of experience in this field. The first series of classic power supply products we produced are transformer rectifiers. Transformer rectifiers are approved for the AIRBUS single-aisle (A318, A319, A320, A321) and long-range (A330, A340) aircrafts as well as for the Boeing B777. Three versions of the transformer rectifiers supply 140 W, 280 W and 420 W at 28 V DC. The second generation of power supplies products are switch mode power supplies. They are approved for the AIRBUS A318, A319, A320, A321, A330, A340 and A380 aircrafts. They function with variable, in addition to, constant frequencies. These are far lighter and more efficient than the transformer rectifiers. Furthermore, they automatically shut down in the event of overheating and restart only after being reset. We use the modern technology of resonance transformers for the newest generation in switch mode power supplies, “Cool and Green power”. This highly efficient product ensures minor dissipation losses, which preserve low temperatures. As a result, the “cool & green power” source does not require an internal fan. The first version of the “cool & green power” generation supplies 70 W at 28 V DC at > 90% efficiency. It is approved for use in the AIRBUS A318, A319, A320, A321, A330, A340, A350 and A380 aircrafts. Our current research and development projects are focused on digitally controlled power supplies.
Lights & Mechanics
The Lights & Mechanics Competence Centre at AES includes employees from various departments, including: light development, circuit development, mechanical design, and prototype construction. The team members work in close proximity, as the optical and electronic developers are in the same office area as the mechanical designers. This helps promote effective teamwork between the departments within the L&M Competence Centre, and facilitates developers and designers to keep a watchful eye on any new developments, at all times. Team members shadow products, through every step of the life cycle: from creating specifications, developing solution concepts, and making design drafts, to detailed construction work, series launches and ongoing support. This interdisciplinary team welcomes the challenges posed by unique client requests, e.g. the illumination of useful aircraft cabin objects, such as, clothing rails and cosmetic mirrors. AES has primarily developed and produced aircraft lighting for various applications, with a more detailed focus on LED aircraft lighting. Over time, this has evolved into some close working relationships with prominent LED manufacturers, which allows us access to the latest data and LED developments. As a result, we have extensive knowledge about how LEDs behave in diverse operating and environmental conditions. Today, we can create durable lights with, consistent light quality, incorporating these advantages into other product developments.
Optical calculations, with both general and advance endurance tests, ensure ideal results. Our engineers analyse these results in our light laboratory. Light measurement services and technical support are also available upon request. We design efficient control circuits, in coordination with, customer request and specific aviation requirements, employing thermal analyses and strong heat management to guarantee a robust design. AES utilizes Altium Designer to lay out circuit boards consistent with EMI criteria. We can also figure insulation spacing and placement requirements, featuring multilayer techniques and delicate structures depending on the application. Component data is electronically transferred to the ERP system, guaranteeing error-free part lists and quick material procurement.
In addition, we also develop processor based light control systems, which can create various lighting scenarios, while connected to the client cabin management systems. These also have internal power supplies for direct and immediate energy. Mechanical constructions are another area of our expertise. We prepare designs, which includes housing, PCB configurations and attachment points. We offer a wide range of technologies for multiple requirements, including plastic injection moulding (also in optical quality), sheet metal construction and composites, for example. At AES, we use production processes (3D printing) to manufacture prototypes, in addition to, series products. We choose the ideal process for our projects, always taking, the material and application requirements into consideration. After finding the most suitable materials, we consult our customer to review the surface treatments: including passivation, varnishing and metal layering. Therefore, the customer can evaluate the environmental characteristics and criteria for their final approval. Our light housings feature, decorative surfaces from small colour tolerances through to real gold lamp finishes.
We have skilled knowledge in using colour sensors chips to compensate for colour drift caused by temperature or LED aging. This is especially important for cabin lighting, to ensure that passengers see, homogeneous lighting throughout the cabin, continuously. We can achieve colour homogeneity in less than 3 SDCM with high colour reproduction values.
We have also developed lighting compatible with the night vision system (NVIS) in accordance with the MIL-STD- 3009, as well as, state-of-the-art technologies like OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diode).
Naturally, we meet the requirements of major aircraft manufacturers relating to our materials and their attributes, such as: corrosion resistance, resilience to aggressive media, and flammability levels. This means, AES prepares design calculations and conducts analyses, to ensure that their construction is sound (e.g.: thermal analyses, strength calculations, FEM, reliability analyses, considering EMV requirements). We use 3D CAD software CATIA, which allows us to exchange 3D models for digital mock-ups. For example, 2D AutoCAD is ideal for creating print templates. Our designers create all the documentation necessary for production and assembly, including: single part and assembly drawings with complete measurements, fits, tolerances, and standards. They define delivery and production regulations, conduct the first article inspection (FAI) in accordance with EN9102, and prepare test templates for quality assurance and goods receipt. Our lab mechanics can build prototypes in our development lab and workshop, and make these available to developers and constructors for testing purposes whenever needed.
The AES state-of-the-art communication system is a flexible “all in one” solution. This system consistently adapts to rapidly changing technological conditions, while meeting VIP, government, and corporation customers’ needs since the early 1990s Our system is utilized in various aircraft models include the Airbus single-aisle (A318 –A321) aircrafts, the long-range and wide-bodied Airbus A330 and A340, as well as, the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) 737-200 to -800, and the Boeing 777, 747-200, -400 and –8 planes. Today, the AES communication system can include the component IPX (IP-Private Branch Exchange Server), as an interface for our communication system satellite, making it possible to control and monitor, using our DCP (Display Control Panel). This includes devices for passengers, such as, THA/THB cord telephones and cordless phones (CHA/CHB/CHC), and our “APP Connect” Android app. Other devices important to point out are: the Ethernet Switching Unit ESU, telephone power supply TPS and individually designed maintenance panel and relay boxes. This system allows for ISDN-quality phone calls (VoIP) in conjunction with Inmarsat (satellite operator) services, via Swift-64 or Swift Broadband SBB. The Swift Broadband service also provides internet connections to the ground via background or stream services. This allows passengers access to the internet, their e-mail, and video conferences.
1. AES supports a student space project
UB-SPACE (University of Bremen – Image Processing for Determining Relative Satellite Motion) is a rocket experiment designed to provide images and data processed for the autonomous camera-based navigation of space vehicles. A team of six students from the University of Bremen and University of Applied Sciences Bremen are conducting this experiment. It is supported by the GNC Department of the Institute of Space Systems of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Bremen. The launch date for the experiment is scheduled for the spring of 2017 at Esrange Space Centre on board the rocket “REXUS 21″ in course with the ninth REXUS/BEXUS cycle. A bilateral agency agreement between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) is responsible for the REXUS/BEXUS programme. The Swedish part of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). Experts from DLR, SSC, ZARM and ESA have provided technical support to the student teams throughout the project. EuroLaunch, a co-operation of the SSC Esrange Space Centre and DLR Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA), is responsible for campaign management and launch vehicle operations. For further information, please see: www.ub-space.de
2. High-PFC: Development of highly efficient and compact single-stage power correction factor
The aim of this funded project is to develop a prototype of a compact, highly efficient PFC stage which meets all the requirements for certification in the aviation industry. Current switch mode power supplies (SMPS) usually function based on a multistage concept. These SMPS are comprised of: an input filter, a rectifier, an active power factor correction and an isolated DC/DC converter. Each of these stages represent an independent sub-system with a residual conduction loss. These losses accumulate within the current path, resulting in poor overall efficiency for the complete system. If each stage achieves an efficiency of 95 %, this would return an overall efficiency of only 86% (0.953^3 = 0.86). An earlier “AeroAC” innovation project, funded by the WFB and completed in collaboration with the University of Bremen (BCM), produced a fully digitally controlled multi-stage PFC stage. This PFC works with an efficiency of approximately 93% over a load range of 5W to 600W. It is possible to increase efficiency further by using a “bridgeless PFC” stage, a smart technology. The PFC rectifies in the PDF stage making the bridge redundant. The filter stage also integrates directly into the PFC stage. Thanks to a completely effective digital control, this concept provides efficiencies exceeding 97% in all load cases.
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3. ALU Harness for Satellite (ALSA)
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi), this research project aims to use aluminium cables as power supply lines in satellites. Aluminium cables have a major advantage over conventional copper conductors’ due to a lighter weight, potentially reducing it by over 50%. Aluminium also has a higher electrical conductivity to density ratio than copper. The central theme of this project is to apply this key advantage to satellite technology, where copper is commonly used for power and signal lines. The challenge now, is to face and solve problems such as; fragility resulting from mechanical load, and maintaining durability in the case of exposure to corrosion between production and launch. AES is devoting its long-term aviation experience and knowledge to these demanding conditions: and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) is providing developmental support and conducting studies on the most suitable materials and surface conditions. Satellite technology is key to global communication, and implementing the results of this developmental work will represent a major milestone in this field.
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