Universal Decoder for Airborne Generated Data
Navy SBIR 2014.2 - Topic N142-098
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Moore - navair.sbir@navy.mil
Opens: May 23, 2014 - Closes: June 25, 2014

N142-098 TITLE: Universal Decoder for Airborne Generated Data

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Information Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate an adaptive off-aircraft software module capable of decoding airborne data files from raw binary or vendor specific formats into an open format.

DESCRIPTION: Modern military aircraft generate volumes of digital data as time correlated observations measuring the aircraft state, subsystem performance, airframe stresses, and other parameters, which are collected and stored on the aircraft during flight. This data is routinely stored in crash survivable media designed to provide a record of the flight in the event of a mishap, as well as downloaded periodically onto various media for off-vehicle analysis in support of the spectrum of Maintenance, Operations, Safety, and Training (MOST) functions. No standard format is currently prescribed for this type of airborne data storage, which results in limitations in reading, interpreting, and aggregating the data. As such, post-mishap data reconstruction efforts can face extensive and unacceptable delays while determining the specific data format for a particular storage device. Additionally, applications designed to be system (or platform) agnostic that provide off-vehicle data analysis can be extremely challenged in an environment where the input data structure is unknown or unique. This problem is not only faced by the applications mentioned above–in general, any process by which stored data from multiple sources or applications is manipulated to produce a coherent output is subject to the same types of limitations if multiple input data formats are used.

To mitigate this shortfall in capability, innovative research is needed to develop a software module that is capable of converting data designed to be downloaded or otherwise mined from aircraft (data contained within crash survivable media in particular, however, all data in general) using multiple intrinsic data formats to a standard, easily usable format for off-vehicle PC based analysis by text editors, spreadsheets, and analysis software. Ideally, the software module would be capable of performing this translation with no or minimal knowledge of the input data structure and encoding format. A truly novel approach in which software can independently analyze input data records using metadata or some other method, and apply the appropriate translation algorithms is desired. Specific characteristics include (but should not be limited to):

1. Ability to adapt to data frame structures such as character delimited, synch word offset, and any others identified and agreed upon by initial project research (as a minimum).
2. Ability to decode raw formats such as linear offset, polynomial, table lookup, and others identified and agreed upon by initial project research (as a minimum).
3. Translate raw binary data into commonly encountered encoding schemes such as the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), real or two’s compliment numbers, Extensible Markup Language (XML), or Hierarchical Data Format Five (HDF5) (as a minimum).
4. Be internally adaptive to time-stamped and non-time-stamped record formats; fixed and multi-frame record formats; frame and sub-frame synch word values; header/footer, self-describing, and data-only record formats; word length; frame/record length; sub-frame formats; periodic and adaptive record formats; commercial aviation (ARINC) data formats; numeric, character, and enumerate data formats; and other characteristics as determined by initial project research (as a minimum).
5. Execute as standalone or callable subroutine/applet responsive to runtime user input or batch mode input to designate input file set.

PHASE I: Design and prove feasibility of a software module that autonomously senses and translates commonly used military and commercial aviation data formats into an open format that provides for easy import into text editors, spreadsheets, and analysis software.

PHASE II: Design, develop, and demonstrate the software module. Validate it for accuracy and efficiency using government supplied data.

PHASE III: Finalize a software module that meets operational requirements. Integrate, test, and transition the technology as appropriate, which includes but is not limited to the Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance (MFOQA) Program of Record developed by PMA-209. Develop commercialization plans for potential private sector applications.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This technology has relevance in any application where flight data is collected, stored, or analyzed-particularly at safety agencies where flight data recorder analysis or (Military) Flight Operations Quality Assurance ((M)FOQA) is performed, or aircraft maintenance facilities where health and usage monitoring is performed. The encoded nature of flight data, even when non-proprietary, render it difficult to interpret outside of vendor supplied software, which is typically expensive and virtually impossible to aggregate for third party analysis unless there is access to computer programming expertise. This software would mitigate that limitation.

1. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular AC No. 20-141B, "Airworthiness and Operational Approval of Digital Flight Data Recorder Systems," August 2010.

2. Sudolsky, M., "ARINC 573/717, 767, and 647A: The Logical Choice for Maintenance Recording and IVHM Interface Control or Frame Updates," Annual Conference of the Prognostics and Health Management Society, 2009, https://www.phmsociety.org/node/46.

3. ARINC Characteristic 767-1, Enhanced Flight Recorder, May 2009, https://www.arinc.com/cf/store/catalog_detail.cfm?item_id=1220.

4. ARINC Characteristic 717-15, Flight Data Acquisition and Recording System, July 2011, https://www.arinc.com/cf/store/catalog_detail.cfm?item_id=1641.

KEYWORDS: Flight Data; Data Format; Data Decode; Data Translation; Binary Data; Decode Logic

DoD Notice:  
Between April 23 through May 22 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting May 23, 2014, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (14.2 Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the SBIR 14.2 topic under which they are proposing.

If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or webmail link.