The cargo load system on board the A400M freight plane is used for air dropping paratroops and equipment via parachute or gravity extraction. The mission-critical control computer of the system, called loadmaster workstation, is built with double Eurocard boards. It is designed, tested, verified and produced in accordance with DO-254 level B and DO-178 level B, based on the EN 9100 quality management system and the additional GRESS requirements from Airbus.
The CPU boards inside the system are designed as 2oo3 architecture for high operational safety. On-board triple redundancy includes the three PowerPC® 750 processors, the dynamic working memory and the internal structure of the SEU-tolerant FPGA. Dual redundancy applies for the local PSUs and the Flash memory, whereas all memory types are ECC protected.
All critical I/O functions - including the voter for the 2oo3 architecture - are implemented in the FPGA. In addition, two PMC slots can accomodate further I/O functions.
To guarantee the level of safe operation as requested for this application, the electronics also feature extensive BITE (built-in test equipment) features, are designed to facilitate worst case execution time analysis, work without interrupts and DMA for strict deterministic behaviour, and support a very fast boot time of less than 1 sec.
Exposed to harsh environmental influence, the boards are designed for extended operating temperature in a conductive cooling system, with all components conformally coated against humidity and soldered against vibration.
Each loadmaster workstation features two identical channels, is controlled by two of these triple-redundant 6U boards, completed by an AFDX® (ARINC-664) and a graphics interface per CPU-board, and supported by the safe operating system PikeOS. The system is specified for -15 to +40°C (up to 70°C for 15 minutes) operation temperature.
The loadmaster workstation is connected to a number of loadmaster control panels with their own electronics which are distributed across the aircraft.
The Airbus A400M is a new generation of freight planes which is predicted to become the backbone of the whole European air transport fleet. The A400M is a turbo-prop machine with four motors that shall transport a maximum payload of 37 tons over a distance of 3,300 km, with the maximum range rising to about 6,400 km with a payload of 20 tons. Its high flotation landing gear allows operation from short and unpaved airfields, needing as little as 980 m for take-off and 770 m for landing depending on the situation. The plane is planned to be used for humanitarian and defense purposes. In any situation two people are sufficient to fly the aircraft.