Aviation Data Systems (ADS) has been given a A$416,000 ($320,000) Australian government research and development grant to develop a portable datalink communication test kit for avionics systems.

The development of the Multi Protocol Ramp Test set (MPRT) comes as the use of air-to-ground datalink communications increases, particularly in safety critical situations like air traffic control. "We're the only company in the world providing truly portable test equipment for air-to-ground datalink systems," says Murray Joss, managing director of Victoria-based ADS.

ADS will develop the MPRT in two stages. The first, to be completed by the end of this year, will involve the launch of a test system with ACARS and VDL Mode 2 capability. The second stage will involve the development of an MPRT for the emerging VDL Mode 3 protocol.

The system can either be used on the ground next to the aircraft or to test the aircraft while in flight. ADS says tests will be pre-programmed for all avionics configurations and will check the core datalink system as well as systems interfacing with it, including printers, displays and data collection systems.

The MPRT will provide instructions for operators to follow and will indicate whether the aircraft system is serviceable or not and in some cases will point to the action required to fix the problem, says ADT. "These portable test sets do away with the huge expense of fixed ground stations or aircraft installations for testing," says Joss.

Source: Flight International