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Excellent Testing Process: From Simulators to Real Flights


In aviation, where flight safety is the most important concept, the development and testing of software plays a key role in ensuring the control of risks during the flight. The complexities of unmanned flight control system’s software require rigorous testing processes to guarantee the correct behavior of the system in every situation and condition. This makes simulators and real flights essential to guarantee the utmost reliability and safety of aviation software systems.


Code Testing in Simulation

The process of developing software for aviation begins with meticulous coding. However, it is during the subsequent testing phase that the software shows its consistency. Once coding is complete, an exhaustive testing process takes center stage. At this juncture, the Acceptance Test Procedure (ATP) emerges as the principal character, subjecting the software to a comprehensive battery of scenarios that closely simulate real-world flight conditions. These scenarios often extend beyond the conventional flight duration for stress testing.

The Acceptance Test Procedure (ATP) is a group of trials where our engineers check and guarantee the correct behavior of the software against potential challenges and intricate flight scenarios. The flight control software included in the autopilots is examined by using both Software-in-the-loop (SIL) and Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulators that have also been developed by UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía and available for the customers. The second one allows the exposing of the real flight software to severe conditions, from turbulence and extreme weather to complex flight paths and potential failures, in a safe and controlled environment where no physical risks are assumed.

The Acceptance Test Record (ATR) stands as evidence of the software's trials recording all the challenges posed during the acceptance testing phase. This record not only assures the software's capabilities and reliability but also serves as a vital reference for future iterations and developments.


Taking to the Skies: Real-World Flight Testing

The software development journey does not end with successful simulation tests. To truly validate its performance, the software should be internally tested with real flights. This stage of testing is conducted thanks to days of visiting the airfield and under the vigilant supervision of our experts, such as UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía's Flight Testing Department and Flight Control Department.

During these real-world flights, the software is subjected to advanced extreme situations that the software potentially may face with the customers. This is done to check its behavior even in conditions it will never experience during its service. From failure simulations to intricate maneuvers, the software's performance is checked. Only when the software passes all these trials do our engineers consider it as ready for release, signaling a significant milestone in the software development process.

In the never-ending and evolving landscape of unmanned aviation, the significance of software testing can never be forgotten. Advanced capabilities, such as the one UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía offers in its flight control solutions, should be mandatorily combined with reliable software systems. For this reason, flight testing, from simulators to real-flight scenarios, contributes to a comprehensive evaluation of software capabilities.

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UAV Navigation is a privately-owned company that has specialized in the design of flight control solutions for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) since 2004. It is used by a variety of Tier 1 aerospace manufacturers in a wide range of UAV - also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or 'drones'. These include high-performance tactical unmanned planes, aerial targets, mini-UAVs and helicopters.