Innovative Design and Safety-Critical Software Enable Refuelling Wing Pods

Cobham Air Refuelling & Auxiliary Mission Equipment and Wind River have
announced the use of Wind River’s safety-critical VxWorks real-time operating
system (RTOS) in the 900E series air refuelling pods to be used on the A330MRTT
and A400M.

The 905E/A330 and 908E/A400M wing pods are fourth-generation systems
incorporating over 50 years of design, integration and refuelling expertise. The
wing pod is “role-equipment” and contains a software-based digital control

The safety-critical edition of VxWorks conforms to the DO-178B standard and
runs the Refuelling Control Unit (RCU) inside the refuelling pod. The RCU
controls the primary functions of the refuelling pod, including safety and
mission-critical applications.

The RCU is responsible for controlling the electric hose-reel motor and
brakes, as well as the ram air turbine that supplies power to the fuel pump. The
unit also monitors hose-reel speed, fuel pressure, turbine speed and up to a
dozen sensors in the self-contained refuelling pod. Input from the tanker
aircraft regarding airspeed and weight-on-wheels status is fed to the RCU via
the external interface standard (ARINC, 1553 or optical, as required).

The RCU runs continuous Built-In Testing (BIT) diagnostics for enhanced
mission availability. It also provides the operator with warning, caution and
advisory information at the control panel. Finally, the RCU is responsible for
arming the Emergency Functions Unit (EFU), a unique feature on A330 and A400M

Roy Trim, Chief Engineer at Cobham Air Refuelling & Auxiliary Mission
Equipment Division explains: “Prior to using Wind River’s VxWorks, the
Refuelling Control Unit ran on machine code. VxWorks provides greater options
with regards to architectural flexibility, considered important for the
continued development of our avionic solutions capability. A key reason for
selecting VxWorks was that it’s an industry-accepted safety-critical RTOS that
comes with proven DO-178B Level A certification credentials.”

Richard Tyson, Managing Director of Cobham Air Refuelling & Auxiliary
Mission Equipment Division, says: "Using a product that’s tailored to our needs
for connectivity and safety-critical standards gives us an unparalleled edge to
tailor our product to a global range of applications. As the inventors of
mid-flight refuelling, we’re able to utilise decades of experience to stay on
the cutting edge of hardware and software advancements.”

Alex Wilson, Senior Programme Manager for Aerospace and Defence at Wind
River, comments: “The RTOS is a critical building block for an increasing number
of safety-critical systems, and rather than develop this technology in-house,
aerospace device developers and manufacturers are increasingly looking to
readily available COTS solutions to outsource commodities like real-time
operating systems, middleware and board support. This approach enables
specialist device makers, like Cobham, to focus on the development of products
that are more advanced, versatile and easier to certify”.

For more information, please contact:
Alex Shapiro /
Jasmine Richards
C/O Republic
Tel: 020 7379 5000
Email: /

About Wind River
Wind River is the global leader in device software optimisation (DSO). Wind River enables companies to develop and run device software faster, better, at lower cost and more reliably. Our platforms are preintegrated, fully standardised, enterprise-wide development solutions. They reduce effort, cost and risk and optimise quality and reliability at all phases of the device software development process, from concept to deployed product.

Contact Information
Jessica Miller
Global Corporate Communications