You are on page 1of 17


Discrete, Discontinuous

Aviation + Electronics
Digital Avionics
 Avionics account for:
 10% of cost of a GA aircraft
 30% of cost of a comercial aircraft
 Up to 75% of cost of a military aircraft

 Major drive for avionics proliferation:

minimum flight crew.
Digital Avionics

 We will concentrate on
aircraft state sensors

 Other courses will focus

 Databuses
 Comunication
 Radionavigation
 Autopilot
Air Data Systems
 Provide accurate information on the air data quantities:
 Altitude
 Calibrated/indicated airspeed
 vertical speed
 true airspeed
 Mach number
 airstream incidence angle

 The air data computing system computes these quantities from

the outputs of very accurate sensors which measure:
 the static pressure
 total pressure
 outside air temperature
 air-stream incidence
Inertial Sensor Systems

 Provide the information on aircraft attitude (pitch and

roll) and the direction in which it is heading (yaw)
 The inertial sensor comprise a set of gyros and
accelerometers which measure the aircraft’s angular
and linear motion about the aircraft axes
 A computing system derives the aircraft’s attitude and
heading from the gyro and accelerometer outputs.
 Earlier systems use gimballed mechanical gyros
 Modern attitude and heading reference systems
(AHRS) use a strapped down (or body mounted)
configuration of non-mechanical gyros and
 IRS/INS was the first digital avionics system (ANGC
The Avionic Environment

 Avionic systems equipment is very different in many

ways from ground based equipment carrying out
similar functions. The reasons for these differences
are briefly explained in view of their fundamental
 The importance of achieving minimum weight.
 The adverse operating environment in terms of
operating temperature range, acceleration, shock,
vibration, humidity range and electro-magnetic
 The importance of very high reliability, safety and
Hardware integrity
 Reliability shake-down testing (RST) is
intended to duplicate the most severe
environmental conditions to which the
equipment could be subjected, in order to try
to eliminate the early failure phase of the
equipment life cycle.

 A typical specification would call for twenty RST

cycles without a failure before acceptance of
the equipment.

 Wiring is usually the main cause of failure.

RST cycle
 Typical RST cycle requires the equipment to
operate satisfactorily through the cycle
described below.
 Soaking in an environmental chamber at a
temperature of +70◦C for a given period.
 Rapidly cooling the equipment to −55◦C in
20 minutes and soaking at that temperature
for a given period.
 Subjecting the equipment to vibration, for
example 0.5g amplitude at 50 Hz, for
periods during the hot and cold soaking
Air data System
 The air data quantities (pressure altitude,
vertical speed, calibrated airspeed, true
airspeed,Mach number, etc.) are derived
from three basic measurements by sensors
connected to probes which measure:

 Total (or Pitot) pressure

 Static pressure
 Total (or indicated) air temperature
Total pressure
 Is measured by means of an absolute
pressure sensor (or transducer) connected
to a Pitot tube facing the moving airstream.
This measures the impact pressure, QC,
that is the pressure exerted to bring the
moving airstream to rest relative to the
Pitot tube plus the static pressure, PS, of
the free airstream
PT = Q C + PS
Static pressure

 The static pressure of the free

airstream, PS, is measured by an
absolute pressure transducer
connected to a suitable orifice located
where the surface pressure is nearly
the same as the pressure of the
surrounding atmosphere.
The Pitot/static probe

Invented 250 years ago by the French mathematician

Henri Pitot for measuring the flow of water
Measured (or indicated) air
 Measured air temperature, Tm, is made by
means of a temperature sensor installed in
a probe in the airstream. This gives a
measure of the free airstream temperature,
TS , plus the kinetic rise in temperature due
to the air being brought partly, or wholly, to
rest relative to the temperature sensing
 The temperature assuming the air is
brought totally to rest (recovery ratio = 1)
is known as the total air temperature, TT or
The Air Data Quantities
 From the measurements of static pressure, PS , and total
pressure, PT , it is possible to derive the following

 Pressure altitude, HP . This is derived from the static pressure,

PS, measurement by assuming a ‘standard atmosphere’.
 Vertical speed, H˙P . This is basically derived by differentiating
 Calibrated airspeed, VC. This is derived directly from the
impact pressure, QC, which is in turn derived from the
difference between the total and static pressures (QC = PT − PS
 Mach number, M. This is the ratio of the true airspeed, VT , to
the local speed of sound, A, that is, M = VT /A, and is derived
directly from the ratio of the total pressure to the static
pressure, PT /PS . (True airspeed is defined as the speed of the
aircraft relative to the air.)
The Air Data Quantities
 The computation of the aircraft’s Mach number, M,
together with the known recovery ratio of the probe
enables the correction factor for the kinetic heating
effect to be derived to convert the measured (or
indicated) air temperature to the free airstream or static
air temperature, TS or OAT.

 Speed of sound - The static air temperature so

derived then enables the local speed of sound, A, to
be determined as this is dependent only on the air
 True airspeed, VT can then be readily computed
VT = M*A.
 Air density ratio, ρ/ρ0 can then be computed from PS
and TS (ρ is air density and ρ0 is air density at
standard sea level conditions).