Real-Time Innovations' NDDS Middleware Powers UK Air Traffic Control

2/2/2005 - Real-Time Innovations, Inc. (RTI), has been awarded a contract from the United Kingdom's (U.K.'s) National Air Traffic Services, Ltd. (NATS), for the use of RTI's Network Data Distribution Service (NDDS) middleware in a mission-critical air traffic management system. NDDS was chosen over competing solutions to provide a rapid response to information updates and to five-nines (99.999 percent) or greater service availability.

NATS is using RTI's NDDS middleware as part of its Automatic Callsign Information Distributor (ACID) system. The NDDS-based system offered increased performance and provided greater control over critical system behavior. "This is an innovative use of our technology in an important new market area for RTI," stated Stan Schneider, Real-Time Innovation's chief executive officer. "Its successful integration in only a few months demonstrates the value of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) middleware in creating mission-critical systems quickly and reliably."

"RTI's product provided us with a commercially attractive solution that will improve our time-to-market and help to reduce the risk to ACID's successful deployment," said Antony Vaudrey, ACID's project manager. The ACID system provides U.K. Radar Data Processors (RDPs) with up-to-the-minute flight data, allowing them to correlate aircraft callsign and other flight information with secondary surveillance codes returned from aircraft transponders. The correlated information provides controllers with essential data needed to monitor and control the flow of traffic through the U.K.'s busy airspace.

Flight data is entered into ACID from civil and military flight data processing systems (FDPs). The data's integrity and freshness are critical to the provision of U.K. Air Traffic Control (ATC). The real-time properties of NDDS supply ACID with the ability to rapidly distribute information updates to as many as 128 RDPs tracking as many as 4,000 flights.

An important element in the NATS decision to commit to NDDS was the middleware's proven history in other mission-critical systems. RTI's extensive experience serving military and aerospace applications gave regulatory agencies the confidence they needed to approve the final ACID design using NDDS. The system will be deployed in the London area control centre near Southampton.

Assuring System Reliability
A key requirement of all ATC systems is reliability. If ACID should fail, safety precautions require that traffic be grounded or re-routed, resulting in flight delays and substantial business costs to both NATS and its customers. To meet the service availability requirement, the ACID system is configured to maintain service in the event of hardware or software failure.

The NDDS middleware simplifies the messaging needed to provide that fault tolerance. "We require a low-latency, secure, ordered and reliable point-to-point messaging service," said Roland Ellis, ACID Product Design authority. "NDDS provides us with the means to maintain numerous communication paths across processes and through processor boundaries transparently to the application through the NDDS publish-subscribe mechanism."

The publish/subscribe communications model of NDDS permits the addition or removal of system nodes without disturbing the traffic among other nodes. This allows ACID's communications processors that handle the data coming from external systems to seamlessly switch communication to an alternate database processor without needing to pause service or require manual intervention.

NDDS also simplifies the checkpoint messaging that maintains synchronization of ACID's redundant database processor, which manages the distribution of flight data. This data synchronization, together with a heartbeat signal from the primary data processor, allows the standby processor to automatically step in if the primary processor fails.

The ease-of-use of NDDS allows ACID's system engineers to quickly develop the messaging and system response behaviors needed to detect and react to hardware failures within the system. In addition, the flexibility and real-time performance of NDDS provided the engineers with the level of control needed for them to tune the system to execute failover without compromising the integrity of flight data.

NDDS - Setting the Standard
RTI's NDDS is the first commercially available publish-subscribe software that runs on a variety of transports to provide fast, efficient data distribution. The DDS specification standardizes the software application programming interface (API) and underlying communications model a developer can use to create distributed applications. This COTS implementation supports dynamic system scalability with a high degree of fault tolerance while reducing schedule risks, initial development costs and total cost of system ownership. NDDS also provides flexibility in terms of platforms, languages and transport mechanisms.

NDDS eliminates network programming and simplifies the development of applications that must share large amounts of data in real time. Applications simply declare that they are publishing or subscribing to a topic. NDDS provides a pluggable transport framework that supports the industry-standard UDP/IP protocol, emerging high-speed interconnects (such as StarFabric) and local Shared Memory. New transports can be easily supported and used without modifications to the application logic.

About RTI
Real-Time Innovations (RTI, leads the real-time information networking industry with the most resilient and high-performance software solutions. Its products and professional services provide the technology for national railways, air traffic control, traffic monitoring, mission-critical combat systems, financial transaction processing and industrial automation. NDDS, RTI's flagship product, connects multiple sources of real-time data and seamlessly integrates complex networks of independent devices into a logical whole. Raytheon, Nikon, Omron, Applied Materials, Schneider Automation, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Harmonic and the U.S. Military rely on RTI technology for their distributed real-time systems. Headquartered in Silicon Valley since 1991, RTI is a privately-held company.

RTI, Real-Time Innovations and NDDS are registered trademarks or trademarks of Real-Time Innovations, Inc.

North American Sales Contact: Real-Time Innovations, 3975 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, CA 95054, Tel: 408-200-4700, Fax: 408-200-4702, Website:

European Office: Real-Time Innovations, 109-111, rue des Cotes, 78600 Maisons-Laffitte, France, Tel: +33 (0) 1 34 93 34 13, Fax: +33 (0) 1 34 93 34 14.

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