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Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.

Avionics are the electronic systems used on aircraft. Aircraft avionics is the most crucial component of aircraft systems and helps in providing various operational and virtual information in-flight and on the ground. Aerospace avionics include navigation, communication, and surveillance systems along with other electrical systems and in-flight entertainment systems.

 

Advanced avionics were designed to increase the safety as well as the utility of the aircraft. Safety is enhanced by enabling better situational awareness. Safety can be increased by providing more information for you in an easier-to-interpret presentation.

 

To supplement air traffic control, most large transport aircraft and many smaller ones use a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS), which can detect the location of nearby aircraft, and provide instructions for avoiding a midair collision. Communications connect the flight deck to the ground and the flight deck to the passengers. On‑board communications are provided by public-address systems and aircraft intercoms.

 

The avionics system receives data from the air traffic management system and feeds this information to the pilot to select an approach path to the destination. Advanced avionics systems can automatically perform many tasks that pilots and navigators previously did by hand.

 

For example, an area navigation (RNAV) or flight management system (FMS) unit accepts a list of points that define a flight route and automatically performs most of the course, distance, time, and fuel calculations.  Once en route, the FMS or RNAV unit can continually track the position of the aircraft with respect to the flight route, and display the course, time, and distance remaining to each point along the planned route.

 

Further, Aircraft have means of automatically controlling flight. Nowadays most commercial planes are equipped with aircraft flight control systems in order to reduce pilot error and workload at landing or takeoff.

 

Air navigation is the determination of position and direction on or above the surface of the Earth. Avionics can use satellite navigation systems (such as GPS and WAAS), INS( inertial navigation system), ground-based radio navigation systems (such as VOR or LORAN), or any combination thereof.

 

 

Fuel Quantity Indication System (FQIS) monitors the amount of fuel aboard. Using various sensors, such as capacitance tubes, temperature sensors, densitometers & level sensors, the FQIS computer calculates the mass of fuel remaining on board.

 

Commercial aircraft cockpit data recorders, commonly known as “black boxes”, store flight information and audio from the cockpit. They are often recovered from an aircraft after a crash to determine control settings and other parameters during the incident.

 

Weather systems such as weather radar (typically Arinc 708 on commercial aircraft) and lightning detectors are important for aircraft flying at night or in instrument meteorological conditions, where it is not possible for pilots to see the weather ahead. Heavy precipitation (as sensed by radar) or severe turbulence (as sensed by lightning activity) are both indications of strong convective activity and severe turbulence, and weather systems allow pilots to deviate around these areas.

 

Electro-optic systems include devices such as the head-up display (HUD), forward looking infrared (FLIR), infra-red search and track and other passive infrared devices (Passive infrared sensor). These are all used to provide imagery and information to the flight crew. This imagery is used for everything from search and rescue to navigational aids and target acquisition.

 

Advanced avionics equipment, especially navigation equipment, is subject to internal and external failure.  These systems require regular maintenance of various systems and software upgrades. Aircraft manufacturers provide complete avionics systems with the aircraft and a few avionics systems, such as in-flight entertainment system, can be customized based on the consumer requirement.

 

There has been a progression towards centralized control of the multiple complex systems fitted to aircraft, including engine monitoring and management. Health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) are integrated with aircraft management computers to give maintainers early warnings of parts that will need replacement. Advanced avionics generally incorporate displays allowing pictures of the flight route as well as basic flight instrument data.

 

The integrated modular avionics concept proposes an integrated architecture with application software portable across an assembly of common hardware modules. It has been used in fourth generation jet fighters and the latest generation of airliners.

 

IoT impact on Avionics

By 2025, it is predicted that there can be as many as 100 billion devices shall be connected to IoT through network of everyday objects through sensors that will be infused with intelligence and computing capability. These devices shall comprise of personal devices such as smart watches, digital glasses and fitness monitoring products, food items, home appliances, plant control systems, equipment monitoring and maintenance sensors and industrial robots.

 

For the commercial airline sector, IoT can improve operational efficiency and offer increased personalisation to passengers. Many airlines that have started experimenting with IoT, there are projects to improve passenger experience, baggage handling, tracking pets in transit, equipment monitoring, and generating fuel efficiencies.

 

Bombardier’s CSeries jetliner that carries Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbo Fan (GTF) engine – an engine that comes with 5000 sensors that generate up to 10 GB of data per second. A single twin engine aircraft with an average of 12 hours flight-time can produce 844 TB of data. The GTF engine uses great swathes of data to build artificial intelligence and predict the demands of the engine in order to adjust thrust levels. As a result, GTF engines are demonstrating a reduction in fuel consumption by 10% to 15%, alongside impressive performance improvements in engine noise and emissions.

 

Boeing 787 Dreamliners and A350s are using Ethernet-based, next-generation aircraft data networks, called AFDX that allows up to 12.5 MB/s.This makes it quicker and easier to transmit the information from avionics systems to the maintenance teams on the ground about current flying conditions, as well as any faults that have occurred during the flight.  Real time location data of aircraft that impact a host of actions ranging from Advertising bill boards to flight information dashboards to deciding on optimized routes.

 

Military Aircraft Avionics

Military aircraft have been designed either to deliver a weapon or to be the eyes and ears of other weapon systems. Military aircraft avionics rely on sophisticated electronics systems and equipment to perform a wide range of combat and non-combat functions.

 

They include displays, flight control, activity monitors, weapon trackers, navigation systems, computing architectures, countermeasure dispensers, human-machine interface (HMI), secure tactical communications, and radio, electro-optic and infrared (IR) threat sensors.

 

The flight control systems (FCS) of the military aircraft include various hardware and software systems for primary and secondary cockpit flight controls such as autopilot, data acquisition systems, flight recorders, aircraft management computers, active inceptor systems, and Electrohydrostatic Actuation (EHA) systems, among others. Currently, all the military aircraft flight control systems are developed based on the Fly-by-Wire (FBW) technology. The aircraft OEMs are partnering with the avionics manufacturers to develop and integrate advanced flight control systems onboard the new-generation aircraft, which are planned to be inducted into service in the coming years.

 

The vast array of sensors available to the military is used for whatever tactical means required. As with aircraft management, the bigger sensor platforms (like the E‑3D, JSTARS, ASTOR, Nimrod MRA4, Merlin HM Mk 1) have mission-management computers.

 

A few trends are emerging in military aircraft avionics – including a continued push toward large touch-screen displays, as well as a migration to multicore processing, open architectures, and a new focus on improving cyber resilience. The global commercial avionics market is undergoing a transition from a ground-based system to a satellite-based air traffic control system and is headed towards more compute-intensive, high-speed, and high-bandwidth avionics.

 

One primary difference between military and civilian aircraft avionics “is the qualification to more stringent military environmental standards such as sand, extreme temperatures, EMI, and salt fog,” says Marc Ayala, director of Fixed Wing Business Development for Collins Aerospace (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). “A secondary effect surrounds the addition of specialized mission functions such as weapons targeting and surveillance sensors.”

 

Avionics displays

On the avionics display front, the primary trends are, not surprisingly, still “large format and touch screen,” Ayala says. “Many flight decks are migrating to three or four large displays, and pilots are becoming increasingly familiar with touch screen as the human machine interface.”

 

A secondary trend, Ayala adds, is the analysis of large amounts of data driving migration to multicore. Processing demands and cyber resilience are next in driving inclusion of multicore processors: “Certification of multicore processors in avionics will be something every integrator will deal with.

 

In Feb 2020 Elbit Systems Ltd. announced that it won a $43 million contract from Hanwha Systems Co. Ltd. to equip the Next-Generation Korean fighter jets in development with embedded Terrain Following-Terrain Avoidance (TF/TA) systems. The contract will be performed over a six-year period. According to the company, embedding Elbit Systems’ TF/TA solution enables fighter jets to fly and maneuver safely at low altitudes, in zero visibility, and in harsh weather conditions (Instrument Meteorological Conditions).

 

This is intended to thereby enhance a pilot and crew’s ability to operate undetected in hostile territory. Interfacing with the autopilot system, the TF/TA system is designed to fuse data from onboard sensors and a digital terrain elevation database. These capabilities paired with flight performance characteristics should enable the aircraft to maintain optimal altitude throughout the mission, the company claims.

 

NASA’s eXternal Vision System will allow X-59 pilots to safely navigate the skies by using a 4K monitor to display images from two cameras outside the aircraft combined with terrain data from an advanced computing system. By jointly developing software applications side-by-side with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA, Collins Aerospace was able to provide an optimized avionics solution that includes the company’s award-winning touchscreen primary flight displays with tailored multi-function windows, head-up display (HUD) symbology, synthetic vision, ARC-210 communication radios, and a suite of navigation and surveillance equipment. In addition, Collins Aerospace was able to leverage its multi-spectral enhanced vision system (EVS-3600) to enable pilots to land in nearly all weather conditions using advanced visual sensors and multiple wavelength, infrared technology.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Also, currently, the companies are focusing on integrating advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data into computers to enhance the autonomous operations of manned and unmanned aircraft. For instance, in June 2019, Airbus Defense and Space entered into a partnership with Ansys to develop a new flight-control solution with sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

 

C3.ai, an artificial intelligence (AI) software provider , announced a five-year agreement with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to deliver C3 Readiness for Aircraft, an AI-based software application that increases the readiness and availability of aircraft to accomplish their missions.

 

Predicting an aircraft subsystem’s risk of failure is essential to the U.S. military’s fleet readiness. By using machine learning algorithms to monitor high-priority subsystems for risk of failure and predict the requirements for parts at air bases and depots, C3 Readiness for Aircraft shifts the paradigm from reactive to predictive maintenance. C3 Readiness for Aircraft provides a near real time view of aircraft health for each individual tail number. Using C3 Readiness for Aircraft, maintainers can be made available and prepared for work, and operations personnel can ensure that the right parts are available at the right time and at the right locations. With this application, organizations can substantially expand the use of existing aircraft and reduce the cost and time associated with unexpected maintenance.

 

“Each hour an aircraft is grounded costs taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars – and approximately $292 billion of the Pentagon’s annual budget is spent on operations and maintenance costs ,” said Ed Abbo‚ President and CTO, C3.ai. “Given these numbers, even a fractional increase in aircraft mission capability can save billions

 

C3 Readiness for Aircraft operates on the C3 AI Suite™, an integrated software platform that enables organizations to rapidly design, develop, and deploy enterprise-scale AI applications on any public or private cloud environment. The C3 AI Suite allows the DoD to integrate and unify large amounts of fragmented and disparate data, and make those data available for use by machine learning algorithms for insights that improve operations and provide situational awareness. C3.ai’s applications are configurable for a variety of capabilities beyond AI predictive maintenance including intelligence data fusion, clearance adjudication, insider threat, improved logistics, supply risk identification, and AI-based operational support.

 

 

Liquid metal Antennas

Modern aircraft requires variety of antennas for radar , communications and Electronic warfare and when these are integerated on the airframe can compromise its structural integrity or increasing drag and fuel consumption. With a diverse range of missions, aircraft require the reconfiguration of antennas to perform multiple functionalities.

 

Researchers are now developing liquid metal alloy based antennas are used that can be moved around to meet specific needs and is embedded in the aircraft structure, without compromising the structural properties. The liquid state allows for the antennas to be reconfigured to provide tunable frequency and directional operation and go so far as being multi-operational. These liquid metal antennas reduce the structural alteration to the craft.

 

LM antenna is made of radiating structures created by fluidic metal alloys, which are injected into microfluidic channels built in flexible polymers. This type of antenna allows for tight physical co-design and integration with the wearable sensor devices, e.g. embedded in flexible resin based material.

 

As the liquid metal technology advances, it will be integrated into more electronic processes and the ability to reconfigure antennas based on missions will increase. Next steps for furthering this technology include chemically altering the reactions when the liquid metal comes in contact with other metals as well as impeding the liquid from solidifying at high altitudes.

 

Speech Recognition

Honeywell is researching speech recognition and control technology for cockpit advancement with the goal of eliminating the manual steps required to execute infrequently used commands. One specific speech recognition technology the company is researching is an Air Traffic Control (ATC) transcription technology that transcribes ATC communications received by the pilot into text that appears conveniently on a tablet, such as an iPad.

 

Runway Overrun Alerting and Awareness System

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) indicates that about one third of all business aviation accidents that occur during the landing phase are runway excursions.  Runway Overrun Alerting and Awareness System (ROAAS)is designed to provide pilots with easy to understand visual and audio alerts that feature real-time comparisons of remaining runway length and predicted stopping distance to enhance safety on and near the runway.

 

Supersonic Avionics

Honeywell is also looking into the use of aircraft cockpit displays to provide visual information about the impact of a sonic boom, which is produced by an aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound. Currently in the research phase, lead by Honeywell International’s senior scientist Jerry Ball, the company is developing software to detect where a sonic boom would occur, how it would impact people on the ground and how the pilot can change a flight profile to reduce the impact of the boom.

 

Recently, Honeywell flight tested the new technology in collaboration with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. The company’s advanced technology team believes the technology would help ensure future supersonic aircraft can remain below acceptable noise levels.

 

Neural Sensing

Scientists and engineers at Honeywell have been researching neural technology and its possible applications in cockpit avionics for more than a decade. A computer monitor is hooked up to a neural sensing headset cap, which ultimately aims to allow the pilot to control the aircraft using only her thoughts.

 

For example, when the pilot desires to turn the aircraft to the right, he would concentrate on the lighted pattern to the right side of the computer screen. The neural headset then uses Electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to measure changes in the billions of neuron transmissions that occur in the brain to transfer the pilot’s desired command to the flight controls, according to Santosh Mathan, principal scientist at Honeywell Labs.

The headset allows the pilot to connect patterns of lights flashing across a control panel with their desired control of the aircraft. In fact, during the summer of 2015 a modified autopilot on a King Air was flight tested with the technology, and a pilot was able to use neural control to maneuver the aircraft.

 

Electric and Hybrid Electric Propulsion

The need to optimize aircraft performance, decrease operating and maintenance costs, and reduce gas emissions is pushing aircraft industry to progress  towards more electric aircraft (MEA), and ultimately an All Electric Aircraft. Electric propulsion can be powered by rechargeable batteries, fuel cells, or solar energy.

 

Hybrid-electric propulsion systems employ two or more distinct types of power, for example power from an internal combustion engine (in the case of an aircraft, this would be using kerosene) and an electric motor. The hybrid systems use gas turbine engines for propulsion and to charge batteries; the batteries also provide energy for propulsion during one or more phases of flight

 

Security in flight systems

An emerging trend is a focus on security. “While not always a requirement in programs, we’ve made security an important part of our open systems architectures at Harris,” says Henson. “We started to standardize on these interfaces, using COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] technology and spending the time to overcome the challenge through high-speed cryptography. We’ve also invested in multi-level security – MILS [multiple independent levels of security] and MLS [multilevel security]. Some customers have specific security requirements but, in general, we look at where the marketplace is going with our crypto solutions based on a certified architecture.”

 

Rapid growth in IOT devices, are offering new opportunities for hacking, identity theft, disruption, and other malicious activities affecting the people, infrastructures and economy. Some incidents have already happened, an internet-connected fridge was used as a botnet to send spam to tens of thousands of Internet users,. Jeep Cherokee was sensationally remote-controlled by hackers in 2015. FDA issued an alert about a connected hospital medicine pump that could be compromised and have its dosage changed.

 

Military IoT networks will also need to deal with multiple threats from adversaries, including physical attacks on infrastructure, direct energy attacks, jamming of radiofrequency channels, attacks on power sources for IoT devices, electronic eavesdropping and malware.

 

Mission or tactical avionics

Military aircraft have been designed either to deliver a weapon or to be the eyes and ears of other weapon systems. The vast array of sensors available to the military is used for whatever tactical means required. As with aircraft management, the bigger sensor platforms (like the E‑3D, JSTARS, ASTOR, Nimrod MRA4, Merlin HM Mk 1) have mission-management computers.

Police and EMS aircraft also carry sophisticated tactical sensors.

 

Military communications

While aircraft communications provide the backbone for safe flight, the tactical systems are designed to withstand the rigors of the battle field. UHF, VHF Tactical (30–88 MHz) and SatCom systems combined with ECCM methods, and cryptography secure the communications. Data links such as Link 11, 16, 22 and BOWMAN, JTRS and even TETRA provide the means of transmitting data (such as images, targeting information etc.).

 

Radar

Airborne radar was one of the first tactical sensors. The benefit of altitude providing range has meant a significant focus on airborne radar technologies. Radars include airborne early warning (AEW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and even weather radar (Arinc 708) and ground tracking/proximity radar.

The military uses radar in fast jets to help pilots fly at low levels. While the civil market has had weather radar for a while, there are strict rules about using it to navigate the aircraft.[citation needed]

 

Sonar

Dipping sonar fitted to a range of military helicopters allows the helicopter to protect shipping assets from submarines or surface threats. Maritime support aircraft can drop active and passive sonar devices (sonobuoys) and these are also used to determine the location of enemy submarines.

 

Electro-Optics

Electro-optic systems include devices such as the head-up display (HUD), forward looking infrared (FLIR), infrared search and track and other passive infrared devices (Passive infrared sensor). These are all used to provide imagery and information to the flight crew. This imagery is used for everything from search and rescue to navigational aids and target acquisition.

 

ESM/DAS

Electronic support measures and defensive aids systems are used extensively to gather information about threats or possible threats. They can be used to launch devices (in some cases automatically) to counter direct threats against the aircraft. They are also used to determine the state of a threat and identify it.

 

 

Open systems architecture approach

The Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) Consortium is working to create open system reference architectures applicable to military and commercial sensor systems. These architectures use modular design and widely supported, consensus-based nonproprietary standards for key interfaces.

 

A key force behind open architecture developments in military avionics has been the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Consortium, an aviation-focused group comprised of industry suppliers, customers, and users working to create an open architecture, standards, and business model geared toward helping speed new capabilities to warfighters faster. All three services – Air Force, Army, and Navy – are also involved.

 

The F-35’s latest tech refresh program is a perfect example of the open architecture approach. “For the F-35 avionics program, we’re providing more than 1,700 different components, including network-interfaced units, power supplies, integrated chassis that support communication, navigation, computer processing, and a multifunction advanced data link that enables the aircraft to communicate covertly.”. Open architectures will make tech refreshes on the F-35 and other platforms much more efficient down the road.

 

We’ve embraced open systems architectures at Harris, and our next-gen Integrated Core Processor (ICP) is a perfect example of that. We standardized the interfaces, components, and cards for the computer, said Bryant Henson, vice president and general manager for Harris Corporation’s Electronic Systems Avionics Business Unit (Melbourne, Florida).  “The ICP essentially acts as the brains of the F-35 –processing data for the aircraft’s communications, sensors, electronic warfare, guidance and control, as well as cockpit and helmet displays. The computer operating the display also functions as the backup computer for the aircraft. ”We also purposely made the ICP processor-­ card -agnostic, so that future refreshes aren’t locked into one provider and we can easily and cost-effectively upgrade the computer, chassis, or the processor. That’s how we’re driving capability while reducing size, weight, power (SWaP), and cost.

 

Software is playing “an increasing role, which generally represents the most complex part of development programs,” says Marc Ayala, director of Fixed Wing Business Development for Collins Aerospace (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). “In the old days, if you wanted a new capability added to your aircraft, it usually meant the addition of a new box. Today, many capabilities can be added by adjusting software without any hardware changes.”

 

Open systems standards such as FACE and others “are causing many within the industry to rethink investments and business models on the military market,” he adds. “As an example, Collins Aerospace recently debuted a software-based FACE-compliant flight management system that can be loaded and run on any conforming processor. It wouldn’t have been possible without the common interfaces established by FACE.”

 

Cyber Security

In August 2021, Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, awarded contracts  to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. in McLean, Va., and to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., for the Trusted and Elastic Military Platforms and Electronic Warfare (EW) System Technologies (TEMPEST) program. The companies will share as much as $200 million for a portion of the TEMPEST program called Agile and Resilient Platform Architectures (ARPA). The objective is to develop, prototype, and demonstrate cyber security technologies to protect avionics in Air Force weapon systems.

 

The companies will develop security technologies that will include assessment and testing tools; vulnerability mitigation and cyber-hardening technologies; malware detection and adaptive response techniques; and technologies to secure open-systems and agile-architecture platforms.

 

The companies also will develop techniques to develop cyber security and resiliency for next-generation avionics; improve the resiliency of avionics at different stages of the acquisition life cycle from hardening existing legacy systems to designing cutting-edge security technologies with future avionics systems. Ultimately, the companies will develop, demonstrate, and prototype a digital architecture that combines digital engineering, software factories, and current advanced avionics architecture technologies to advance warfighting capability for current and future Air Force weapon systems.

 

Market Growth

The Military Aircraft Avionics Market was at a value of USD 33. 52 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow to USD 43. 87 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 4. 52% during the forecast period (2022-2027).

 

The aerospace avionics market growth can be attributed to the rising demand for air travel and rising economies in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. The increasing demand for system upgrade of the existing fleet in developed regions is also contributing to the market growth. The increasing per capita income and growing GDP of Asia Pacific have increased the preference toward air travel.

 

In 2020, the deliveries of military aircraft decreased significantly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain of certain aircraft programs. Nevertheless, the situation improved in 2021 for several military aircraft manufacturers worldwide. On the other hand, no visible impact was noted on the orders placed by various armed forces worldwide.

With the growth in defense spending by several nations across the globe, the industry has witnessed several procurement and development activities for military aircraft in the last few years. This factor is currently driving the growth of the associated avionics market.

 

The development of new and advanced avionics is generating the need to replace the old avionics systems in the older generation military aircraft. These new avionics suites support the aircraft to meet the newer generation battlefield requirements like long distance target detection and tracking, stealth and electronic warfare defense. Therefore, to stay abreast of adversaries and allied military forces are devising modernization plans to upgrade the avionics suites in the military aircraft.

 

Furthermore, several countries are developing and procuring next generation military aircraft to modernize and expand their fleets. This is also expected to drive the investments towards next generation avionics and mission computers.

 

By platform, the avionics market has been segmented into commercial aviation, military aviation, business jets & general aviation, and helicopters. Among these, the commercial aviation segment is projected to be the fastest-growing during the forecast period. Manufacturers are currently focusing on avionics components to develop products that are more reliable, accurate, and efficient. Continuous improvements in software technology have modified the human-machine interface of avionics systems. It has become more user-friendly and can automate a wide variety of in-flight tasks, thereby reducing the workload of the flight crew to a large extent.

 

The flight management system market will account for approximately 20% of the aerospace avionics industry revenue by 2025 with the introduction of low-cost airlines and increasing demand for new aircraft from the Middle East and Asia Pacific

 

The surveillance system market will witness significant growth in the aerospace avionics market with the advancements of existing systems and new aircraft deliveries. The industry players are engaged in developing highly integrated surveillance systems to address the emerging requirements of the next-generation avionics.

 

By system, the avionics market has been segmented into hardware and software. Among these, the software segment is projected to witness the highest growth rate during the forecast period. In software, a real-time operating system (RTOS) has a central role in safety and security. Safety-critical systems go through a rigorous development, testing, and verification process before being certified for use. For avionics software and other airborne systems, the de-facto standard for software development is RTCA/DO-178C Software Considerations in Airborne Systems.

 

North America is dominating the military aircraft avionics market in terms of revenue in 2021, owing to the large-scale procurement of military aircraft by the United States. The United States is the largest military spender in the world with USD 801 billion in military expenditure in 2021. The US Air Force has spent the past four years improving the fleet mission-capable rates which reached its lowest point (below 70%) in 2018. However, the rate is still around 72% as of December 2021. This has raised concerns and has pushed the government to fill the gaps through new aircraft procurement as well as to upgrade mission-related systems in the existing fleet.

 

The US Air Force operates one of the oldest aircraft fleets compared to its adversary Russia and China. Fielding of new aircraft has slowed the increase in fleet age, but the US Air Force is not buying enough new aircraft to sustain its force structure at its current size. The average age of some fleets is high, at 45 years for bombers, 49 years for tankers, and 29 years for fighter/attack aircraft. Also, the US armed forces are upgrading its existing fleet with advanced avionics to support a wide range of missions.

 

For instance, In February 2022, the USAF finally announced its plan to upgrade its 608 F-16 Block 40 and 50 in one of the largest modernization initiatives in history. The F-16 Fighter jets will get up to 22 modifications that will increase the lethality of aircraft and ensure that the fourth-generation fighter can confront current and future threats. The 22 modifications include an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, new cockpit displays, a new mission computer, and a new database. Such investments of the countries in North America to enhance their aerial capabilities is anticipated to propel the growth of the market.

 

Industry

Some of the major participants of the aerospace avionics market are Cobham Plc, Thales Group, Honeywell, L3 Harris Corporation, Safran S.A., and Raytheon, Airbus S.A.S, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, BAE systems, Saab AB, Honeywell International. Industry participants are involved in long-term agreements with airline operators to increase their market share. In May 2019, Boeing announced its agreement with Jet Aviation and HK Bellawings Jet for deliveries of Jeppesen Operator and Jeppesen JetPlanner Pro digital solutions. This avionics system will enhance efficiency, safety, and conveyance of operators. This business contract is expected to last for five years.

 

In June 2021, Universal Avionics in Tucson, Ariz., announced that it had been selected by Mid-Canada Mod Center to provide an avionics upgrade for their Dassault Falcon 50 long-range business jets. MC2 chose the InSight retrofit flight deck solution to modernize the aircraft with NextGen capabilities for FANS 1/A+ and Data Comm, and to replace the legacy CRT displays.

 

The Falcon 50 InSight installation includes four UA EFI-1040 LCD Displays, two UNS-1Fw SBAS-FMSs, and two Touch EFIS Control Display Units (ECDU). The installation also includes UA’s Data Communications package with the UniLink UL-801 Communications Management Unit with ATN B1 capability, and KAPTURE Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) with internal RIPS. FAA and Transport Canada STCs for the first installation phase are expected in the Fourth Quarter of 2021. A planned Phase 2 of the installation will add engine interface.

 

The InSight Display System offers the Falcon 50 a new set of capabilities including 3D SVS, advanced interactive digital maps, embedded electronic charting, high-resolution airport maps, intuitive control and input for enhanced crew interactivity, and increased reliability. InSight also offers lowered aircraft weight, an extremely high MTBF/MTBUR system design, and the ability to predict maintenance costs with reliable, state-of-the-art hardware.

 

Military aircraft Avionics upgrades

The importance of Avionics is also magnified in Airborne Early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft that provides a real-time picture of friendly, neutral, and hostile air and maritime activity under all kinds of weather and above all kinds of terrain. E-3 AWACS is the most widely used AWACS system in use today, used by the USAF, NATO, the RAF, French Air Force, Saudi Arabia, and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force.

 

The NATO E-3 fleet on an avionics upgrade system called DRAGON to move to a modern glass cockpit. The DRAGON modifications replace the existing DMS Global Positioning System (GPS) Integrated Navigation System (GINS) with a modern Flight Management System (FMS) that will accommodate new capabilities including Mode 5 IFF and Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS). The cockpit upgrades will also include weather radar that predicts wind shear, an enhanced ground proximity warning system, improved engine warnings, a digital flight deck audio distribution system, and crew alert system, according to the DRAGON program offi ce release at Hanscom.

 

In May 2021, Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, announced that the Raytheon Technologies business had been selected by Lockheed Martin to NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft. The X-59 research aircraft presented a unique avionics challenge for Collins Aerospace as the supersonic jet has no forward-looking windows for pilots to look through.

 

“The X-59 is expected to create a noise about as loud as a car door closing instead of a sonic boom when it breaks the sound barrier,” explains Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager for Military Avionics and Helicopters at Collins Aerospace. “This aircraft has the ability to shape the future of supersonic travel and our avionics are helping make this revolutionary aircraft a reality. We’re excited as we count down the days until we see it fly.”

 

In the world of military avionics, Military & Aerospace Electronics’ John Keller reports that the U.S. Navy is asking industry experts to weigh-in on a plan to upgrade flight-control software in Navy attack jets to reduce the risk of pilots crashing into the ground on difficult missions. “Navy officials want to compile a sense-of-the-industry on a plan to upgrade the avionics of the Navy Boeing F/A-18C/D light-attack bomber to enhance the aircraft’s ability to prevent controlled flight into terrain when the pilot is fixated on a target during an attack dive; spatially disoriented; loses consciousness; or suffers degraded abilities due to oxygen deprivation,” Keller writes.

 

He continues, “The F/A-18C/D light-attack bomber has a quad-redundant digital fly-by-wire flight-control system that converts pilot and aircraft inputs to flight control actuator commands from surface actuators, air data sensors, pilot controls and displays, software, and the quad-channel flight control electronic set (FCES) subsystem.”

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/commercial-avionic-system.asp

https://www.aviationtoday.com/2016/05/31/5-advanced-avionics-concepts-being-researched-by-honeywell/

http://mil-embedded.com/articles/military-aircraft-avionics-face-new-data-processing-and-security-demands/

https://c3.ai/us-defense-department-awards-c3-ai-95m-contract-vehicle-to-improve-aircraft-readiness-using-ai/

https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2022/05/03/2434414/0/en/Military-Aircraft-Avionics-Market-Growth-Trends-COVID-19-Impact-and-Forecasts-2022-2027.html

 

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International Defense Security & Technology (December 2, 2022) Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.. Retrieved from https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/.
"Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.." International Defense Security & Technology - December 2, 2022, https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/
International Defense Security & Technology October 29, 2022 Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.., viewed December 2, 2022,<https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/>
International Defense Security & Technology - Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.. [Internet]. [Accessed December 2, 2022]. Available from: https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/
"Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.." International Defense Security & Technology - Accessed December 2, 2022. https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/
"Next-Gen Avionics on commercial and military aircrafts will enhance situational awareness and safety.." International Defense Security & Technology [Online]. Available: https://idstch.com/military/air/next-gen-avionics-on-commercial-and-military-aircrafts-enhance-situational-awareness-and-safety/. [Accessed: December 2, 2022]

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