The Future of Aerospace – More Software Please!

Mark Scully

Head of Technology - Advanced Systems & Propulsion, Aerospace Technology Institute

The Aerospace Technology Institute was established in 2014 and is an independent organisation backed by Government and Industry. The ATI provides leadership for the UK‘s aerospace technology community and defines the national aerospace technology strategy. The ATI leads development of an R&T portfolio worth £3.9bn through to 2026. We continue to seek new ways to stimulate technological innovation and create UK advantage.

(Feller & Co, 2013) reported that “the aircraft industry struggles with exponential growth in complexity and cost”. This problem is forecast to worsen due to increased functionality that software is anticipated to provide in the future. The ATI have targeted investment in a highly collaborative industry led programme called SECT-AIR to address some of the concerns around software costs and timescales. It is focussed on techniques that support preciseness (reducing error and rework) and automation (removing human overhead). There is a broad range of standards, methodologies and tooling available for the development and deployment of safety-critical software.

The escalation of software complexity and cost requires a paradigm shift in the way software is developed and innovation in technology to support it. This is supported through the ATI strategy by bringing the necessary software, systems and safety expertise together through collaborative projects (such as the ATI SECT-AIR project) and continuing to exploit the technologies. The aerospace sector has established a ‘centre of excellence’ in this field through the ATI SECT-AIR programme. This includes engaging with and learning from other sectors that face similar challenges (e.g. automotive).

Further to developing safety critical software there is increasing aerospace sector focus on resilient design, manufacturing and certification: intrinsically safe and secure systems and products, with enhanced survivability, resilient to cyber and other attacks. The final goal is to ensure an aviation system that is agile and resilient by design.

About Mark Scully

Mark is responsible for leading on the ATI technology strategy for advanced systems and propulsion. Advanced systems are on-aircraft systems including avionics, communications, electrical power, environmental control, fuel management, landing gear, and systems integration and test. The propulsion scope includes fixed wing and rotary wing propulsion systems, architecture and design, modelling, analysis and simulation, verification and validation, production and through life support.Mark leads on developing a portfolio of projects to deliver the ATI strategy for advanced systems and propulsion. This includes convening collaborative partnerships to deliver technology projects. Mark also represents the UK in European ACARE working groups and also represents aerospace in the Faraday Challenge Technical Advisory Group for batteries. Mark is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and is also a member of the IET Transport Sector Executive Committee.

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