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Digital Avionics Part 1

Digital Avionics Part 1

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Published by M S Prasad
A general idea about digital avionics
A general idea about digital avionics

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Published by: M S Prasad on Feb 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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(Lecture Notes prepared for Digital avionics course for Grad / post grad students based onText books and open source materials )
Part 1 ( Intro & BasicSub systems ) LN
Prof M S Prasad
Digital AvionicsIntroduction: Basic Subsystem(Part 1)
HistoryThe word avionics is short for
aviation electronics
. But it actually encompasses much more thanelectronics. The development of Avionics started as early as the 18th century. In 17
83, the Montgolfier
brothers used a barometer to measure altitude. The famous Wright brothers used avionics as well: ananemometer to measure airspeed. Soon after that, aircraft were equipped with magnetic compasses tomeasure heading, angle of attack vanes to measure attitude, fuel-quantity gauges to measure fuellevels, and so on. Yet in the early days, navigation was still done visually. At the end of the 1920s,
avionics had progressed so much, that the first blind flight and landing was performed: navigati
on wasdone solely based on gyroscopes and radio navigation aids. Over the 1930s, radio navigation and landingaids were further developed, and implemented on aircraft. In the 1940s, the second world war started.This resulted in the development of radar for aircraft detection. Also, communication became moreimportant. VHF and UHF communication was developed. But with all these systems, the pilot really hada hard time. The two decades after WW2 therefore mainly resulted in a reduction of the pilot workload.The 1950s saw the introduction of tactical air navigation (TACAN), airborne intercept radar with trackingcapability and Doppler radar, medium pulse repetition frequency (PRF) airborne intercept radar, digitalmission computers and inertial navigation systems. The 1960s saw the introduction of integratedelectronic warfare systems, fully automated weapon release, terrain-following radar, automatic terrainfollowing, the head-up display laser target marketing technology and the early digital mission computer.
Systems like autopilots, automated warning systems and integrated flight instruments were developed.
This was also the time where the basic T was implemented in aircraft.
In 1970’s , during oil crisisEfficiency became an important topic. Digital computers were developed, aiding pilots in flying andnavigating their airplane as efficiently as possible.
At the same time development of multi-function
displays, information could also be displayed in a much more flexible way. This resulted in so
Glass Cockpits
: cockpits with a lot of displays. Today, glass cockpits are quite common. But we also havesystems like GPS navigation and digital communication links. And many more advanced systemsintegrated with Aitrcraft avionics to give safe and assured confidence , and reliable flying.Of paramount importance in any aircraft is the system (or systems) used for sensing and indicating the
aircraft’s attitude, heading, altitude and speed. In early aircraft, these ins
truments were simple electro-mechanical devices. Indeed, when flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) rather than Instrument Flight
Rules (IFR) the pilot’s most important source of information about what the aircraft was doing would
have been the view out of the cockpit window! Nowadays, sophisticated avionic and display technology,
augmented by digital logic and computer systems, has made it possible for an aircraft to be flown (witha few possible exceptions) entirely by reference to instruments.
Avionics System
Avionics system is actually a system of systems .Fig 1 : Avionics : a system of systemsVarious instruments are used to provide the pilot with flight-
related information such as the aircraft’s
current heading, airspeed and attitude. Modern aircraft use electronic transducers and electronicdisplays and indicators. Cathode ray tubes (CRT) and liquid crystal displays (LCD) are increasingly used to
display this information in what has become known as a ‘glass cockpit’. Modern passenger aircraft
generally have a number of such displays including those used for primary flight data and multi-functiondisplays that can be configured in order to display a variety of information.
Navigation functions
The word Navigation has originated from Greek
word Navis” means sea. Since ea
rlier times onlymode of voyage was Sea hence navigation was limited to sea navigation. The function of navigationsystem are shown in Fig 2 . The block diagram shows the functions which a navigation system is usedto perform and the systems which care used to get the information as required. In most of the systema combination of various approaches are used .The avionics systems is a combination of various subsystems connected through a common data bus .The data bus architecture is specific to avionics industry and has its own standards . Over a period of time , the use of COTS ( common off the Shelf) electronics bus architectures are being adopted. ( Ref fig2A ). The man machine interface is through display system and provision to enter specific flight data .Aircraft state indicators are set of sensors which provide pilot information about aircraft sub systemse.g. engine , landing wheel , cabin pressure , outside temp etc.Navigation sub systems are set of radio receivers, radar receiver s which help in finding out its ownposition as well as position of other aircraft in vicinity to avoid any chances of collision. In Militaryaircraft we may have a sensors to help find and lock in to target as well as for Electronic Warfare ( EW).

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