Airbus used Model-Based Design to model the A380’s fuel management system, validate requirements through simulation, and clearly communicate the functional specification.
Airbus engineers used Simulink and Stateflow to model the system’s control logic, which comprises 45 top-level charts, almost 6000 states, and more than 8700 transitions. This model defines modes of operation on the ground (including refuel, defuel, and ground transfer) and in flight (including normal engine feed, center of gravity control, load alleviation, and fuel jettison).
The functionality within each top-level mode is grouped into subcharts, enabling engineers to work independently on individual components in the hierarchy.
The team developed a parameterized plant model of the tanks, pumps, valves, and electrical components using Simulink. Engineers can set parameter values to configure this model to represent fuel systems for any Airbus aircraft.
After running closed-loop simulations of individual operational components in Simulink, the team integrated them into a complete model for system-level simulations.
Using Parallel Computing Toolbox™ and MATLAB Distributed Computing Server™, the team performed Monte Carlo simulations on a 50-worker computing cluster. Over a weekend, they can run 100,000 simulated flights under varied environmental conditions and aircraft operational scenarios.
The team created a desktop simulator by generating code from the plant and control logic models with Simulink Coder™. A MATLAB® based user interface enables suppliers, airline customers, maintenance engineers, and other Airbus teams to visualize how the fuel management system works and interacts with other aircraft systems.
The team also used the Simulink models to develop hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) tests and commission their HIL testing rig well before the real hardware was available.
After successful flight tests of the A380, the team used System Identification Toolbox™ to tune their plant model using measured flight test data. They used Signal Processing Toolbox™ to remove noise from the test data, and Curve Fitting Toolbox™ to evaluate differences between the measured data and predicted results and to predict system performance beyond the usual flight envelopes. While refining the plant model, they used Simscape Electrical™ to incorporate relays and other elements of the electrical power system.
Based on the success of implementing Model-Based Design for the A380, Airbus engineers are now using this approach to develop the Airbus A350XWB’s fuel management system, reducing development time of this aircraft by one year.