Typhoon tablet technology

Shaun Waddington, Engineering Lead on the project, explains how BAE Systems engineers are bringing tablet technology to the Typhoon aircraft.

18 months ago we asked ourselves: “how you improve the performance of the world’s leading combat aircraft?” 

Now we have done just that, by pairing Typhoon jets with the latest in tablet technology.

At BAE Systems we are constantly searching for innovative and imaginative ways to enhance our products. For Typhoon, the team in Warton, Lancashire wanted a quicker, smarter and simpler way to approach our maintenance work.

We took an off-the-shelf tablet, the Panasonic Toughpad, and cleared it for use with our combat aircraft. We then developed an app for the Toughpad which has the look and feel of those that we all use on our smartphones today. The result is the first of its kind – the ‘Maintenance Message Analyser’.

Previously, the Typhoon would perform a ‘healthcheck’ before and after every mission and display the results on a panel on the side of the aircraft. Our engineers would analyse the results and conduct a series of checks, in parallel with the pilot’s pre-flight cockpit checks, to ensure that the aircraft was fit for flight. 

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The Maintenance Message Analyser makes this process automatic. It analyses the ‘healthcheck’ results and enables us to tell, at a glance, if the jet is fit to fly by using simple, colour-coded icons which confirm what missions the aircraft is safe to carry out. Not only does this save us time on the ground, but it avoids human error and gives ground crew and pilots more information, in real-time and from multiple missions.

The app has taken a highly-skilled and technical process that is performed in an intense working environment, and made it quick, clear and easy-to-use.

I am delighted that the Maintenance Message Analyser successfully completed its first trials earlier this month. The app is just one way in which we can enhance the Typhoon’s performance and work towards integrating the fleet in the Engineering Support System, our electronic record system. We already have a second suite of apps in development along with other initiatives, like the integration of the Captor E-Scan radar, Meteor, Storm Shadow and Brimstone 2 weapons.