How to Include Modern Software Development for Aerospace
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
There is cut-throat competition in the aerospace industry. Big names like NASA are losing numerous contracts to ISRO because of the latter’s cost-effective programs. It’s high time that aerospace agencies should look for cheaper alternatives of products without deteriorating the quality. Moreover, they should also search for ways to innovate rapidly and lower down the resources needed for doing that.
In today’s day and age, everything depends on the terms dictated by the end-user. Consumerism has become a wide-mouthed ape, and businesses across sectors are falling prey to it. And it applies to the IT sector as well. Today, the applications installed on your mobile phone, the design of your laptop, and the speed and functionality of daily use electrical equipment depend upon the end user’s wishes. A board smile across their faces determines whether a particular company will remain in business or pack its bags.
This change is also affecting the aerospace industry in multiple ways. Two questions that arise are: Will the industry transform itself to accommodate the changes, or will it reel under pressure and go out of business?
The aerospace industry can implement tried and tested software development methods to overhaul the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem. It will help increase the system’s efficiency, design inexpensive products, and pay attention to people’s desires, needs, wants, and aspirations. Moreover, it will help lower down production costs and increase customer satisfaction.
The following are the three ways in which software development can modify the aerospace industry.
1. Continuous delivery
Continuous delivery is a software engineering procedure designed to build, test, and deploy software to improve user experience. It is a two-way process that takes into account human creativity and the efficiency of manufacturing processes. Initially, a software engineer completes the creative work that is then passed onto the computer. This exchange is marked when a coder performs an incremental software change to a version management system. This system allows viewing all the changes by tracking the author and the contents of each change.
Once this is done, all the subsequent tasks for delivering the software product are automated. Software build commands, deployment stages, test environments, and execution of different simulations are done automatically many times in a day. Any given software change can make way for the official release of software for customers.
As far as the aerospace and manufacturing processes are concerned, most deliveries are for internal consumers. For external consumers, it takes about 18 months, on average. Continuous delivery is often met with criticism as the operational environment requires making changes fast while maintaining the cost of failure low.
In the continuous delivery methodology, the dashboard shows each software module with either red or green dots. The former is seen as an angry icon and the latter as a happy icon. The workforce has to deal with angry icons on the dashboard at the earliest. It’s because delivery can happen only when each software icon on the dashboard is green.
More than a process that ensures efficiency, continuous delivery is a process that builds confidence. In most cases, the software undergoes about 10,000 changes prior to its final release. It is critical to make so many changes, especially in scenarios where there is only a single opportunity before the final release.
2. Component-based development (CBD)
Component-based development is most often carried out for pure software development projects. As far as embedded systems are concerned, hardware drives growth in clearly defined components.
Pure software programs grow at a steady pace. They start at a small scale and become large over a while and are referred to as monolithic systems. Unlike continuous delivery systems, these monolithic systems follow the fast build, test, and deployment strategy.
In the initial stages of their life, monolithic systems have significant benefits. One of them is that it is easy to replace or add any component without harming the rest of the system. But in the later stages, they lose this capability. The conversion of monolithic to modular architectures frequently happens in the software industry.
Developers and organizations avoid commencing the project by building monoliths. Like other industries, the aerospace industry uses CBD principles to develop modular systems instead of investing resources in building expensive monolith designs that are too expensive to convert.
3. Test-driven Development (TDD)
Test-driven Development (TDD) modifies the traditional approach in which the engineer develops a module and then waits for someone else to write a test for it. In TDD, the developer is as much responsible for writing the tests. In this approach, the tests are written prior to the functional software. The first continuous build has a high probability of failing because it executes a test with only a stub. The first change that occurs to the functional software is the addition of documentation. A doc-only version is created that explains what the functional software will do.
Unlike other industries, TDD is expanded beyond unit tests in aerospace. The complex modules that are in constant link with hardware systems are too expensive for actual testing. Moreover, such testing takes place with simulators that provide environmental stimuli to the software component and then collect and assess the profit. The simulators are subtle software products developed along with the systems that they will test in the future.
The modern software development practices will revolutionize the aerospace and manufacturing environments by incrementing the speed of processes, reducing operational cost, and increasing efficiency. With these benefits combined, the aerospace industry will beat modern expectations and develop superb products to take the industry to higher peaks.