XMA - MDR Combo - Distributed Data Acquisition System


With each generation of aircraft, fixed wing or rotary, there is an increasing amount of data that the Flight Test Engineers are required to capture. This data will be a combination of traditional analogue measurements such as strain, acceleration, pressure, and temperature, along with avionics bus messages including ARINC 429 and MIL-STD-1553. There will also be GPS data, CAN bus, and an ever growing quantity of video channels.

Measurements maybe taken from all aspects of the aircraft, from wings, engines, rotors, landing gear, stores release, power systems, etc.. In short the requirements can be complex and demanding. The traditional centralised data acquisition system required long runs of sensitive cables from sensors to the conditioning units or recorder. These cable are often shielded, heavy and their routing required good management especially where there were restrictions due to limited apertures in the airframe and panels through which they had to pass.

Distributed architectures have arisen to resolves these issues and are designed with higher channel counts, higher data rates, limited space, reduced weight, and increased flexibility in mind. It’s what Safran Data Systems had in mind when they created the XMA – MDR Combo.

Multiple XMA data acquisition units (DAUs) provide flight test engineers with the versatility to acquire measurements closer to the sensors, reducing sensor cable lengths (increasing accuracy), and minimizes the alterations that once would have been necessary to run these cables to a centralised data recorder. Instead the XMA conditions the signals and transmits the data via UDP Chapter 10 (or IENA) over an Ethernet network.

eZ Software allows the Flight Test Engineer to define where the XMA transmits the data. Choices may include the MDR recorder, a telemetry transmitter, an on-board computer for decom and display, another XMA for processing, or any or all of these.

The schematic below shows an example of such a distributed data acquisition system with three XMA stacks, Kappa FE-320 camera, OnTime network switch, and a Heim MDR flight test data recorder.

The MDR flight test data recorder not only records the sensor measurements and bus data from the XMA Data Acquisition Units, but the Ethernet video too, along with data from it's own internal modules.  The MDR can also provide output for on-board display using eZ Software, and streaming for a telemetry transmitter.

Both the OnTime switch and the MDR are capable of providing the master time code to synchronise data across the network via PTP.

For very high data rate applications, those requiring increased storage capacity (up to 80TB), or cyber-security features, the MDR-GT may replace the MDR.

Minimum Composition:

XMA Stack

XMA-PSI, XMA-CPU, XMA-ETH + Acquisition modules.

MDR Mainframe

MHUB2 + storage or telemetry module.


None, Network hub and telemetry functionality is built in.

Flight Test Instrumentation Product Menu : μMA - XMA - MDR - XMA-MDR Combo - XMA Rotor - MDR-GT - eZ Software

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For further information please contact a member of the team at Photo-Sonics International Ltd.

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