Avionics systems are at the heart of modern military and civilian aircraft. The ability of these aircraft to operate safely and conduct their missions effectively relies heavily on the function and performance of their avionics systems. Functions such as automatic flight control, awareness of the aircraft and its surrounds, the ability to communicate using voice and data, and the need to accurately navigate across large distances, all rely on avionics systems. In most cases these days, avionics computers running specialised software provide avionics functionality. These computers are generally networked together to facilitate vast amounts of information sharing around the aircraft. At the beginning and end of the avionics chain is still the human operator called the pilot. The human machine interface (cockpit) has come a long way since aircraft started flying and it is still an area of huge change. Displays, tones, and interface devices continue to improve the efficiency with which information flows between the pilot and aircraft.
This book has been written to be help engineers, technicians, and aircrew understand how major avionics systems work and interact. The book is full of qualitative examples, case studies, and worked quantitative examples to reinforce the theory. Additional references at the end of each chapter allow readers to investigate individual topics in more detail. Review questions also allow readers to confirm their understanding of the main points in each chapter.
Chapter 1 is an introduction to avionics, Chapter 2 outlines aircraft electrical systems and Chapter 3 investigates flight control systems. Chapter 4 introduces air data, air-data sensors, and the air-data system, which is able to calculate a range of critical airspeeds, temperature and altitude. Continuing the theme of aircraft sensors, Chapter 5 discusses inertial sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. Chapter 6 covers airborne radar systems. Chapter 7 is the final chapter on aircraft sensors and covers electro-optic sensors.
pter 8 deals with airborne communication systems. Chapter 9 is dedicated to airborne navigation, and is divided into two main sections; dead reckoning navigation and navigation by reference external navigation aids. Chapter 10 describes modern avionics systems as being a number of individual computers networked together. Chapter 11 explores some of the issues associated with running a number of time-critical applications on a single (or resource-limited) avionics computer. Chapter 12 is the final chapter of the book and covers the critical interface between the pilot and the aircraft; the cockpit. Chapter 12 also investigates image intensification in the form of night-vision goggles that are starting to play a major role in both military and civilian cockpits.
Ian Faulconbridge started his professional life as an electronics engineering officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He was involved with maintenance activities and acquisition projects throughout his RAAF career. Since leaving the RAAF, he has been engaged as a professional engineer on a number of aviation-related consultancies. He has also taught avionics and navigation to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.