Abbreviated Test Language for All Systems

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Abbreviated Test Language for All Systems (ATLAS) is a MILSPEC language for automatic testing of avionics equipment. It is a high-level computer language and can be used on any computer whose supporting software can translate it into the appropriate low-level instructions.


The ATLAS language was initially developed by an international committee made up of representatives from the airline industries, military services, avionics manufacturers, and Automatic Test Equipment manufacturers. The goal of the committee was to design a standard English-like language that could be easily understood and used by both avionics and test equipment engineers. The result was the ATLAS language specification, published by Aeronautical Radio, Inc.

The ATLAS language is oriented toward the Unit Under Test and is independent of the test equipment used. This allows interchangeability of test procedures developed by different organizations, and thus reduces costly duplication of test programming effort.

The first ATLAS specification developed by the international committee was published in 1968. The basic document has been revised several times.

The ATLAS programming language incorporates an online compiler (OLC), Test executive (TEX or Test Exec), and file manager and media exchange (FMX) packages. Test executive is the mode ATLAS is run in on test stations while testing electronic equipment.


A standard ATLAS program structure consists of two elements: preamble structure and procedural structure. The ATLAS programming language makes extensive use of variables and statement syntax. An ATLAS statement consists of a flag field, statement number field (STATNO), verb field, field separator, variable field, and statement terminator. Each and every ATLAS statement is terminated with the currency symbol ($).

ATLAS statement structure[edit]

A standard ATLAS statement: | F STATNO | | VERB |, | VARIABLE FIELD | | $ |

Sample ATLAS Statements:

 000250 DECLARE,DECIMAL,'A1'(4)$
 000300 FILL, 'A1', 'NUM',
         (1)    1,     5,
         (2)   20,    87,
         (3)   15,    12,
         (4)   30,    18$


ATLAS is used in the Air Force primarily on test stations for testing the avionic components of the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, and B-1 Lancer.
The U. S. Navy uses or has used ATLAS-based programs for testing avionics systems of the P-3C Orion, UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper, SH-60 Seahawk, E-2C Hawkeye, F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18 Hornet, S-3 Viking, A-6 Intruder, EA-6B Prowler, AV8B Harrier, and V22 Osprey. The US Navy and Marine Corps used a version called Super Atlas for its 484 HTS test benches going back at least to 2000. AN-USM-247 VAST Versatile Avionics Shop Test was used by the US Navy onboard aircraft carrier and shore stations. It supported F-14, S3, E-2, A-7, A-6 et al. VAST is considered by many to be the grandfather of modern avionics test equipment.

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