(19)
(11)EP 2 350 980 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
11.12.2019 Bulletin 2019/50

(21)Application number: 09792237.1

(22)Date of filing:  03.09.2009
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G07C 5/00  (2006.01)
G07C 5/08  (2006.01)
H05K 5/02  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2009/055891
(87)International publication number:
WO 2010/051097 (06.05.2010 Gazette  2010/18)

(54)

METHODS AND SYSTEM FOR BACKUP POWER SUPPLY

VERFAHREN UND SYSTEM ZUR BACKUP-STROMVERSORGUNG

PROCÉDÉS ET SYSTÈME POUR ALIMENTATION ÉLECTRIQUE DE SECOURS


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 29.10.2008 US 260260

(43)Date of publication of application:
03.08.2011 Bulletin 2011/31

(73)Proprietor: General Electric Company
Schenectady, NY 12345 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • STEFFLER, Joseph, B.
    Alto MI 49302 (US)

(74)Representative: Openshaw & Co. 
8 Castle Street
Farnham, Surrey GU9 7HR
Farnham, Surrey GU9 7HR (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 164 824
US-B1- 6 741 896
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] This invention relates generally to backup power sources and, more particularly, to a system and methods of providing an integrated back up power supply for an avionics unit.

    [0002] At least some known avionics equipment is powered through an aircraft's electrical bus system such as a 28VDC bus. New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules require that at least some avionics equipment be powered by an independent power source in the event that aircraft power is lost to the avionics equipment. This new requirement may be met by adding a dedicated remote independent power supply LRU and its associated wiring to the aircraft. However, adding another LRU to the aircraft will increase the weight and complexity of the aircraft. Another option is a power supply in the form of a "sled" that would mount in the tray of the current recorder, and the recorder would then be installed on the sled. However, this only eliminates the need to alter aircraft wiring. There is still the addition of a new LRU to the aircraft, as well as a loss of electrical efficiency.

    [0003] EP 1 164 824 A1 discloses a back up power supply for avionics equipment that can be installed in existing avionics equipment trays without having to rewire the aircraft.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



    [0004] In one embodiment, an avionics system comprising an enclosure for installation within an aircraft, a recording device positioned within said enclosure, a back up energy storage device positioned within said enclosure, said energy storage device electrically coupled to said recording device to supply electrical power to said recording device for a time period of greater than thirty seconds, and a maintenance module positioned within said enclosure with said energy storage device, said module comprising a processor programmed to monitor the operation of the energy storage device and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of the energy storage device at an optimal level.

    [0005] In another embodiment, a method of providing an integrated back up power supply for an avionics unit, said method comprising providing an avionics the enclosure plug compatible with an avionics unit being replaced by the avionics unit including the integrated back up power supply, positioning a voice recorder within the enclosure, positioning an back up energy storage device within the enclosure, the energy storage device electrically coupled to said voice recorder, said energy storage device capable of providing all the electrical power requirements for the operation of the voice recorder for a time period greater than ten minutes, and a maintenance module (114) positioned within said enclosure with said energy storage device, said module comprising a processor programmed to monitor the operation of the energy storage device (112) and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of the energy storage device (112) at an optimal level.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0006] Figures 1-4 show exemplary embodiments of the methods and system described herein.

    Figure 1 is a perspective view of an avionics unit in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

    Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of the avionics unit shown in Figure 1 in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

    Figure 3 is a flow diagram of a method of providing an integrated back up power supply for an avionics unit in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

    Figure 4 is a flow diagram of a method of providing a back up power supply for avionics equipment integrated into a single enclosure of an avionics unit in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



    [0007] The following detailed description illustrates embodiments of the invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. It is contemplated that the invention has general application to supplying backup power to critical equipment in industrial, commercial, and residential applications.

    [0008] As used herein, an element or step recited in the singular and proceeded with the word "a" or "an" should be understood as not excluding plural elements or steps, unless such exclusion is explicitly recited. Furthermore, references to "one embodiment" of the present invention are not intended to be interpreted as excluding the existence of additional embodiments that also incorporate the recited features.

    [0009] Figure 1 is a perspective view of an avionics unit 100 in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In the exemplary embodiment, avionics unit 100 includes an enclosure 102 having walls 104 that define an interior space 106 and a cover 108. Avionics unit 100 includes one or more pieces of avionics equipment, such as but not limited to a cockpit voice recorder 110. In the exemplary embodiment, avionics unit 100 also includes an energy storage device 112, and includes a maintenance module 114 configured to maintain energy storage device in a condition of optimal storage capability. In one embodiment energy storage device 112 comprises an electrochemical storage device such as a battery, in which case maintenance module 114 may comprise an intelligent battery charger. Maintenance module 114 comprises a processor programmed to monitor the operation of energy storage device 112 and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of energy storage device at an optimal level. For example, energy storage device is configured to supply the energy requirements of voice recorder 110 during off-normal periods of operation. In one embodiment, energy storage device 112 is capable of supplying all of the energy requirements of voice recorder 110 for greater than ten minutes. In another embodiment, energy storage device 112 is configured to supplying all of the energy requirements of voice recorder 110 for approximately twenty minutes. In the exemplary embodiment, the one or more pieces of avionics equipment, energy storage device 112, and maintenance module 114 are all housed in the same single enclosure 102. The one or more pieces of avionics equipment, energy storage device 112, and maintenance module 114 are electrically and/or communicatively coupled to external equipment, such as but not limited to aircraft instrumentation, electrical supply buses, and communications networks through a connector 118 that extends through a sidewall 104 of enclosure 102 or through cover 108.

    [0010] Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of avionics unit 100 in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In the exemplary embodiment, avionics unit 100 includes enclosure 102, cockpit voice recorder 110, energy storage device 112, and maintenance module 114. In various embodiments energy storage device 112 comprises a supercapacitor, capacitor having a ceramic dielectric material comprising barium and/or barium titanate. Some selected energy storage devices may require predetermined charging, discharging, and float procedures to maintain the energy storage capability of energy storage device 112 within a predetermined range. Maintenance module 114 is selected to be compatible with and programmed to impalement the procedures required for a particularly selected energy storage device.

    [0011] Figure 3 is a flow diagram of a method 300 of providing an integrated back up power supply for an avionics unit in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Method 300 includes providing 302 an enclosure, positioning 304 a voice recorder within the enclosure, positioning 306 an energy storage device within the enclosure wherein the energy storage device is electrically coupled to the voice recorder and wherein the energy storage device is capable of providing all the electrical power requirements for the operation of the voice recorder for a time period greater than ten minutes.

    [0012] Figure 4 is a flow diagram of a method 400 of providing a back up power supply for avionics equipment integrated into a single enclosure of an avionics unit in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Method 400 includes disconnecting 402 a first avionics unit from an electrical connector that includes power supply wires to the first avionics unit, removing 404 the first avionics unit from a mounting location, installing 406 a second avionics unit into the mounting location, and electrically coupling 408 the second avionics unit to the electrical connector, the second avionics unit including a back up energy storage device within an interior of the second avionics unit wherein the back up energy storage device is capable of providing all the electrical power requirements for the operation of the second avionics unit for a time period greater than ten minutes.

    [0013] The term processor, as used herein, refers to central processing units, microprocessors, microcontrollers, reduced instruction set circuits (RISC), application specific integrated circuits (ASIC), logic circuits, and any other circuit or processor capable of executing the functions described herein.

    [0014] As used herein, the terms "software" and "firmware" are interchangeable, and include any computer program stored in memory for execution by processor 116, including RAM memory, ROM memory, EPROM memory, EEPROM memory, and non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) memory. The above memory types are exemplary only, and are thus not limiting as to the types of memory usable for storage of a computer program.

    [0015] As will be appreciated based on the foregoing specification, the above-described embodiments of the disclosure may be implemented using computer programming or engineering techniques including computer software, firmware, hardware or any combination or subset thereof, wherein the technical effect is to monitor the operation of an energy storage device and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of the energy storage device at an optimal level. Any such resulting program, having computer-readable code means, may be embodied or provided within one or more computer-readable media, thereby making a computer program product, i.e., an article of manufacture, according to the discussed embodiments of the disclosure. The computer readable media may be, for example, but is not limited to, a fixed (hard) drive, diskette, optical disk, magnetic tape, semiconductor memory such as read-only memory (ROM), and/or any transmitting/receiving medium such as the Internet or other communication network or link. The article of manufacture containing the computer code may be made and/or used by executing the code directly from one medium, by copying the code from one medium to another medium, or by transmitting the code over a network.

    [0016] The above-described embodiments of a method and system of supplying backup power for an avionics unit provides a cost-effective and reliable means providing the required electrical power for the avionics unit to continue operation during all modes of operation of the aircraft especially off-normal time periods. As a result, the methods and systems described herein facilitate data collection of aircraft parameters in a cost-effective and reliable manner.


    Claims

    1. An avionics system comprising:

    an enclosure (102) for installation within an aircraft;

    a recording device (110) positioned within said enclosure

    a back up energy storage device (112) positioned within said enclosure, said energy storage device electrically coupled to said recording device to supply electrical power to said recording device for a time period of greater than thirty seconds; and

    a maintenance module (114) positioned within said enclosure with said energy storage device, said module comprising a processor programmed to monitor the operation of the energy storage device (112) and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of the energy storage device (112) at an optimal level.


     
    2. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 further comprising an electrical connector (118) extending through said enclosure, said electrical connector configured to electrically couple at least one of said recording device and said energy storage device to a source of electrical power external to said enclosure.
     
    3. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said recording device comprises a cockpit voice recorder (110).
     
    4. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device is capable of supplying all electrical power requirements of said recording device for a time period of greater than ten minutes.
     
    5. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device is capable of supplying all electrical power requirements of said recording device for a time period of approximately twenty minutes.
     
    6. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device comprises an electrochemical storage device.
     
    7. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device comprises a supercapacitor.
     
    8. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device comprises a ceramic material.
     
    9. An avionics system in accordance with Claim 1 wherein said energy storage device comprises barium titanate.
     
    10. A method of providing an integrated back up power supply for an avionics unit (100), said method comprising:

    providing an enclosure (102) for installation in an aircraft, the enclosure being plug compatible with an avionics unit being replaced by the avionics unit including the integrated back up power supply;

    positioning a voice recorder (110) within the enclosure;

    positioning a back up energy storage device (112) within the enclosure, the energy storage device electrically coupled to said voice recorder, said energy storage device capable of providing all the electrical power requirements for the operation of the voice recorder for a time period greater than ten minutes; and

    a maintenance module (114) positioned within said enclosure with said energy storage device, said module comprising a processor programmed to monitor the operation of the energy storage device (112) and to perform controlled battery charging and discharging operations that facilitate maintaining a life of the energy storage device (112) at an optimal level.


     
    11. A method in accordance with Claim 10 wherein said providing an enclosure comprises providing a retrofit enclosure having substantially similar dimensions as an avionics unit being replaced by the avionics unit including the integrated back up power supply.
     
    12. A method in accordance with Claim 10 further comprising electrically coupling at least one of the voice recorder and the energy storage device to a power supply bus of an aircraft.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Avioniksystem, umfassend:

    ein Gehäuse (102) zum Einbau in ein Flugzeug;

    ein in dem besagten Gehäuse positioniertes Aufzeichnungsgerät (110) und einen in dem besagten Gehäuse positionierten Notstromspeicher (112), wobei der Energiespeicher elektrisch mit dem Aufzeichnungsgerät verbunden ist, um das Aufzeichnungsgerät für einen Zeitraum von mehr als dreißig Sekunden mit Strom zu versorgen; sowie

    ein Wartungsmodul (114), das in dem Gehäuse mit dem Energiespeicher positioniert ist, wobei das Modul einen Prozessor umfasst, der programmiert ist, um den Betrieb des Energiespeichers (112) zu überwachen und um gesteuerte Batterielade- und -entladevorgänge durchzuführen, die es ermöglichen, die Lebensdauer des Energiespeichers (112) auf einem optimalen Niveau zu halten.


     
    2. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend einen elektrischen Steckverbinder (118), der sich durch das Gehäuse erstreckt, wobei der elektrische Steckverbinder konfiguriert ist, mindestens das Aufzeichnungsgerät oder den Energiespeicher mit einer außerhalb des Gehäuses liegenden Stromquelle elektrisch zu verbinden.
     
    3. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Aufzeichnungsgerät einen Cockpitstimmenrekorder (110) umfasst.
     
    4. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher fähig ist, die komplette Stromversorgung des Aufzeichnungsgeräts für eine Zeitdauer von mehr als zehn Minuten bereitzustellen.
     
    5. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher fähig ist, die komplette Stromversorgung des Aufzeichnungsgeräts für eine Zeitdauer von ungefähr zwanzig Minuten bereitzustellen.
     
    6. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher eine elektrochemische Speichervorrichtung umfasst.
     
    7. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher einen Superkondensator umfasst.
     
    8. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher ein keramisches Material umfasst.
     
    9. Avioniksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Energiespeicher Bariumtitanat umfasst.
     
    10. Verfahren zum Bereitstellen einer integrierten Notstromversorgung für eine Avionikeinheit (100), wobei das Verfahren umfasst:

    Bereitstellen eines Gehäuses (102) zum Einbau in ein Flugzeug, wobei das Gehäuse steckkompatibel mit einer Avionikeinheit ist, die durch die Avionikeinheit mit der integrierten Notstromversorgung ersetzt wird;

    Positionieren eines Stimmenrekorders (110) innerhalb des Gehäuses;

    Positionieren eines Notstromspeichers (112) innerhalb des Gehäuses, wobei der Energiespeicher elektrisch mit dem Stimmenrekorder verbunden ist, wobei der Energiespeicher fähig ist, die komplette Stromversorgung für den Betrieb des Stimmenrekorders für einen Zeitraum von mehr als zehn Minuten bereitzustellen; sowie

    ein Wartungsmodul (114), das in dem Gehäuse mit dem Energiespeicher positioniert ist, wobei das Modul einen Prozessor umfasst, der programmiert ist, um den Betrieb des Energiespeichers (112) zu überwachen und um gesteuerte Batterielade- und -entladevorgänge durchzuführen, die es ermöglichen, die Lebensdauer des Energiespeichers (112) auf einem optimalen Niveau zu halten.


     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10, wobei das Bereitstellen eines Gehäuses das Bereitstellen eines Nachrüstgehäuses mit im Wesentlichen ähnlichen Abmessungen wie eine Avionikeinheit umfasst, die durch die Avionikeinheit mit der integrierten Notstromversorgung ersetzt wird.
     
    12. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10, ferner umfassend das elektrische Verbinden mindestens des Stimmenrekorders und/oder des Energiespeichers mit der Energieversorgungsleitung eines Flugzeuges.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système d'avionique comprenant :

    une enceinte (102) destinée à être installée dans un aéronef ;

    un dispositif d'enregistrement (110) placé dans ladite enceinte, un dispositif de stockage d'énergie de secours (112) placé dans ladite enceinte, ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie étant couplé électriquement audit dispositif d'enregistrement pour fournir de l'énergie électrique audit dispositif d'enregistrement pendant une période supérieure à trente secondes ; et

    un module de maintenance (114) placé dans ladite enceinte avec ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie, ledit module comprenant un processeur programmé pour surveiller le fonctionnement du dispositif de stockage d'énergie (112) et pour effectuer des opérations de charge et de décharge de batterie contrôlées facilitant le maintien de la durée de vie du dispositif de stockage d'énergie (112) à un niveau optimal.


     
    2. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un connecteur électrique (118) s'étendant à travers ladite enceinte, ledit connecteur électrique étant configuré pour coupler électriquement le dispositif d'enregistrement et/ou le dispositif de stockage d'énergie à une source d'énergie électrique extérieure à ladite enceinte.
     
    3. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif d'enregistrement comprend un enregistreur de voix dans le cockpit (110).
     
    4. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie est capable de répondre à toutes les exigences d'alimentation électrique dudit dispositif d'enregistrement pendant une durée supérieure à dix minutes.
     
    5. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie est capable de répondre à toutes les exigences d'alimentation électrique dudit dispositif d'enregistrement pendant une durée d'environ vingt minutes.
     
    6. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie comprend un dispositif de stockage électrochimique.
     
    7. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie comprend un supercondensateur.
     
    8. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie comprend un matériau en céramique.
     
    9. Système d'avionique selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie comprend du titanate de baryum.
     
    10. Procédé de fourniture d'une alimentation de secours intégrée pour une unité d'avionique (100), ledit procédé consistant à :

    fournir une enceinte (102) destinée à être installée dans un aéronef, l'enceinte étant compatible avec une unité d'avionique remplacée par l'unité d'avionique comprenant l'alimentation de secours intégrée ;

    placer un enregistreur vocal (110) dans l'enceinte ;

    placer un dispositif de stockage d'énergie de secours (112) dans l'enceinte, le dispositif de stockage d'énergie étant couplé électriquement audit enregistreur vocal, ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie pouvant répondre à toutes les exigences d'alimentation électrique pour le fonctionnement de l'enregistreur vocal pendant une durée supérieure à dix minutes ; et

    un module de maintenance (114) placé dans ladite enceinte avec ledit dispositif de stockage d'énergie, ledit module comprenant un processeur programmé pour surveiller le fonctionnement du dispositif de stockage d'énergie (112) et pour effectuer des opérations de charge et de décharge de batterie contrôlées facilitant le maintien de la durée de vie du dispositif de stockage d'énergie (112) à un niveau optimal.


     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 10, dans lequel ladite fourniture d'une enceinte consiste à fournir une enceinte réaménagée ayant des dimensions sensiblement similaires à celles d'une unité d'avionique remplacée par l'unité d'avionique comprenant l'alimentation de secours intégrée.
     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 10, consistant en outre à coupler électriquement l'enregistreur vocal et/ou le dispositif de stockage d'énergie à un bus d'alimentation électrique d'un aéronef.
     




    Drawing















    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description