The Versatile Field Of Avionics
Avionics is an exciting field. When you have watched movies where they show the cockpit, you must have noticed the large number of controls and displays. That is what Avionics is all about.
Avionics is a contraction of the two words Aviation and Electronics. Formerly Avionics was all about military application; in the 40’s most of the operating systems which were involved in aircrafts were either mechanical, electric, radio-frequency based, or magnetic in nature, and the subsequent invention of radar in detecting enemy planes during World War II ushered in the development of a whole new category of electronic navigational devices.
As the vacuum tubes gave way to integrated circuits, the field of avionics truly took birth in the 70s. Foreseeing the vast potential for this relatively new field of technology, industry specialists took the applications from the military into the area of civilian aircraft development.
Avionics is currently becoming an increasingly versatile field, with its applications bleeding out from the aerospace industry, and into commercial shipping, and naval and terrestrial vehicle navigation, where the need to quickly process data in real-time is ever more urgent. Be it money spent on research in the field of aircrafts, or money spent to buy aircraft, most of it goes into avionics and this field has evolved from being an auxiliary part of an aircraft, to the essential reason for its existence.
The field of Avionics is now of paramount importance in aircraft engineering. This is because Avionics is the brain of the aircraft. This system is primarily located in the cockpit of the aircraft, and operates autonomously under the supervision of the pilot. Aircraft avionics can be broken down into different fields, each with a specialized purpose of its own.
Avionics started with communication. There are many more aspects to avionics, but it is still highly focused on communication. This also involves onboard communication means, like public address systems and intercoms. Navigation is crucial for determining the precise position and direction of the aircraft above the Earth’s surface, such as the Global Positioning System.
Certainly anyone would expect the display in aircrafts to be highly robust. These provide user-friendly systems of determining aircraft altitude and heading, both for the pilot and the aircrew.
Aircraft flight control systems are used to take off the burden from the pilot at crucial situations, such as during the landing maneuver or while hovering; these tasks are usually done by the system in order to minimize the chances of pilot error. Avoiding collisions is possible with Avionic systems designed specifically for that purpose.
Weather systems are used to gauge weather patterns on the aircrafts flight path, and allows the pilot to consider evasive options in case the results are unfavorable; currently, satellite systems have been of great assistance to navigation, as the aircraft can assess weather conditions which are too far away to be detected by in-flight systems.
The different systems that talk to each other are cumulatively called the Aircraft management system. Its tasks include monitoring the status of the engines, to measuring minute changes in pressure. I would like to think of the avionic aircraft management system as the heart and the brain of an aircraft.