Posted on January 5, 2023 linda strong avionics
All modern airplanes, spacecraft, and artificial satellites employ several electronic systems that carry out various duties related to their purpose and mission. As their prescribed tasks become more sophisticated, so too do their electrical systems; these aircraft electrical systems are referred to as “avionics,” a term combining “aviation” and “electronics.” Often featured in the cockpit of a plane, avionic components are featured in flight control, navigation, communication, fuel, weather radar, and other systems that carry out hundreds of other mission and flight management tasks. In this article, we will discuss some of the central avionic technologies used in aircraft.
To start, autopilot is also referred to as automatic flight control; this mechanism was initially used in military bomber planes to ensure accuracy in the airfield, and it later evolved to assist during takeoff and landing situations and to prevent pilot error. One type of autopilot system is called auto-stabilization which is used in helicopters. A conventional fixed-wing aircraft flight control system consists of flight control surfaces, the respective cockpit controls, connecting linkages, and the necessary operating mechanisms to control its flight direction. Flight control hardware and software are serviced frequently to ensure their safety and FAA compliance for the benefit of the crew, captain, and passengers who board the aircraft.
In addition, communication is one of the essential functions of avionics technologies. The communication system of an aircraft is built to connect flight decks to passengers and vice versa; similarly, on-board communications are provided by public address systems and aircraft intercoms. Systems communicate with ground personnel and passengers, and the VHF (Very High Frequency) communication system works on the air band 118 MHz to 136.976 MHz. All channels are spaced from adjacent ones, and VHF is additionally used for line-of-sight communication, such as aircraft-to-aircraft and aircraft-to-air traffic control. Moreover, some aircraft communication also takes place using satellites.
Air navigation requires knowledge of an aircraft’s position on or above the surface of the earth; avionics use a combination of satellite navigation systems such as GPS, WAAS, or ground-based radio to automatically determine the position and direction of aircraft, displaying it to the flight crew on moving map displays. However, older systems like the VOR or LORAN are obsolete, since they require the pilot to draw the path on a paper map prior to flight. Advances in avionics mean that these hand-drawn systems are limited to vintage planes.
Computer-based performance monitors have replaced manual ones seen on older vessels. Performance monitors include devices such as dials, gauges, and instruments that are built to help maintain the health of an aircraft engine. They have become increasingly sophisticated and offer critical information more efficiently than their analog predecessors.
Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) are able to detect other aircraft and warn pilots of a possible collision. This software features instructions to help avoid a crash, making flying safer while also ensuring air traffic control is made simpler than with previous technology. TCAS additionally provides ground proximity warning systems; this particular technology is still being improved.
Running out of fuel is not an option on aircraft, so fuel quantity indicator systems are important for calculating the amount of remaining fuel in a tank, ensuring efficient fuel use. Avionics use the Fuel Quantity Indication System (FQIS) which monitors the quantity of aviation gas present in the fuel tanks featured on the aircraft. FQIS computers utilize various sensors like capacitance tubes, temperature sensors, densitometers, and level sensors to determine the total mass of fuel left on board. Likewise, the Fuel Control & Monitoring System (FCMS) then reports the amount of remaining fuel to the pilot in the cockpit, in addition to managing fuel transfers around various tanks.
Weather systems are able to warn pilots of turbulence or strong rainfall, which allows them to adjust to maintain a safe flight path. Lighter aircraft weather systems are able to detect storms and lightning activity, while more advanced systems typically generate a weather radar. These weather surveillance radars (WSR) are installed in aircraft to determine certain weather conditions in the atmosphere and can estimate weather situations like rain, snow, and hail.
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