View Full Version : Best Innovation in Avionics ?

15th Dec 2009, 15:01
I'm trying to establish the role of innovation in Avionics and I would appeciate your opinion ! What is the feature of a piece of aircraft electronics or software that has made you sit up and think : that's clever/new/useful ? If you had any such ideas, would you bring them to the attention of someone that could act on them, or it is all too much effort...?

Thanks in advance

15th Dec 2009, 15:27
Apart from anything basic I would say TCAS,INS/IRU especially digital gyro types and EGPWS.
This from an engineering point of view.

15th Dec 2009, 21:08
In my life time of flying, the Flight Director was the first innovation that was great. The last, GPS.

Although when I first saw a DME I was impressed, then when the DME with a Ground Speed readout was made I was really impressed.

Piltdown Man
15th Dec 2009, 21:49
I'll tell you what it's not - it's the rubbish Honeywell guidance panel fitted to Embraers. It is without doubt the worst piece of avionics I have ever used. It's over complicated, has too much visual ambiguity, defaults to pointless values - God I hate it! If they made water I bet I wouldn't flow in a straight line, it also wouldn't be drinkable.

Best bit of avionics: Turn & Slip
Second Best: D/I slaved to remote compass
Most convenient: ACARS
Most useful system: ILS


The Real Slim Shady
15th Dec 2009, 21:52
Best: ACAS
Next Best: EGPWS
Third Best: FMS
Most useless: 737NG Vertical Situation Display

15th Dec 2009, 22:20
I couldn't believe the simplicity of glass cockpit displays after converting from analogue instruments.

A modern PFD, which combines ADI, ALT, IAS, IVSI, Rad Alt, and Turn & Slip - to mention just a few - makes my job so much easier and safer.

My vote for the 'Avionics Personality of Year' goes to the modern glass PFD.

15th Dec 2009, 22:26
Gossport tube, never had one fail yet!

16th Dec 2009, 23:48
GPWS, particularly EGPWS/TAWS as these systems fully utilise technology – computation, data, displays, and audio-visual alerting.
Although similar to ACAS and other warning systems, EGPWS is tops as it targets a natural hazard of flight – terrain. Whereas systems such as ACAS have become a necessity due to increasing traffic and commercial pressures on the industry.
Anyone care to estimate the number of lives saved by EGPWS? Whatever the number I doubt if any other avionic system can match the value.

Innovative? Who would have imagined that the basic GPWS’s of the late 70’s would now include spaceflight derived data, a terrain map of the world, significant obstacles, and runway locations with such high accuracy. Also, by using the system in training simulators, all this data is available for free, providing realistic visuals as well as the threat.

17th Dec 2009, 00:58
track line on /and the ND,,,
FPV also very high up there

17th Dec 2009, 14:50
The current received-wisdom is that new avionics must either make money (by saving it by permitting improved approaches and routings), for the airline or improve safety. The improvement of safety is obviously important but difficult to quantity in commercial terms until the equipment is a mandated-fit. Even taking a "making money" strategy as the advantage of new products is not easy when there are huge infrastructure and regulatory hurdles to jump...

Of course there must be opportunities for saving money and providing the same or even improved functionality: I hear the words "fusion" and "integration" a lot. Which hopefully will improve the quality of data and its presentation, and reduce the cockpit space and hence weight of such equipment which all helps reduce costs...

So am I right in suggesting the next great innovation (from a commercial standpoint!) will be one that
- improves safety
- makes money through permitting improved operations
- requires minimal certification effort
- reduces equipment overhead ?

I'm not asking for much :rolleyes:


17th Dec 2009, 14:57
I agree with you on this, and for me, navigation and safety systems that utilise mapping and terrain data represent a major step forward which I suspect will soon be followed by better synthetic vision systems using similar data.

Having improved mapping and terrain (in the desert things move!) information is obviously a key input too.


EGPWS is tops as it targets a natural hazard of flight – terrain. Whereas systems such as ACAS have become a necessity due to increasing traffic and commercial pressures on the industry.
Anyone care to estimate the number of lives saved by EGPWS? Whatever the number I doubt if any other avionic system can match the value.

17th Dec 2009, 17:53
How about the simple things..... Active and standby radio frequencies on the radio head so you don't have to memorize and/or write down new ATC frequencies!

17th Dec 2009, 21:07
I hear tcas, glass cockpits, dme etc. Must not forget that the advancement of most modern avionics is due to advancement in the materials that allowed to take computations made by large mechanical/electrical logic gates to electronics to micro electronics to software. A card file that fits in the nose of a Citation X has more going on in it than avionics racks of early jets that you could about stand up in.

I would also say that the advancement from ADF to VOR/DME/ILS to GPS for radio navigation is the greatest advancement in global systems that have surely contributed to aircraft saftey, by far.

17th Dec 2009, 21:58
I must say GPS . It allows more direct route . Lateral navigation is not a concern wich is invaluable in some areas with little or no beacons. Nobody can get lost anymore !!!!!!!!!!!

17th Dec 2009, 22:27
The "Cuppa tea button"

17th Dec 2009, 23:09
Nobody can get lost anymore

Not quite true.... I've seen it happen, with the professionals too! It all comes back to 'putting poop in will give poop out'.

No doubt GPS is fab, especially when it gives vertical guidance too, but what can be done with just an ADF still amazes me.

18th Dec 2009, 03:07
Graphical map GPS, weather radar, satellite weather such as the XM weather service available in the US, traffic display.

18th Dec 2009, 23:58
From my early days it was the INS.

Now I would say it is the modern PFD.

19th Dec 2009, 05:48
For me on long-haul...CPDLC/ADS and not having to use the HF to provide positions reports

19th Dec 2009, 08:20

INS (which led to IRU)

Predictive Winshear

20th Dec 2009, 03:47
The best?

Circa early 1970's...Hamilton Sundstrand full authority RNAV/VNAV/engine thrust management FMS, fitted to...the Lockheed TriStar.
Without a doubt.

Lord Lucan
21st Dec 2009, 10:18
Well, there is the bit of avionics kit we have (inexplicably) NOT got yet.

It is the sort of GPS moving map display, for taxiing, that I have when driving a car. With the aircraft position shown on the airport taxi chart. Why don't we have them? (or is it just me that doesn't?) It seems it would be really easy to implement, the whole thing could probably be done in software, for many modern aircraft.

It would surely reduce taxiing stuff-ups and runway incursions, particularly in poor visibility. And would compensate for all those airports where taxiway signage is piss poor. And would also help you find where parking stand Z-497 was located on an unfamiliar airport.

21st Dec 2009, 10:44
Yup, that is sorely missing for most. Small GA jets do have that as standard, but our big ones do not. However with the increasing number of class 2 or better EFBs around it becomes available through the EFB side of things. Which has the charm of an easy retrofit even to older aircraft.

Neon Circuits
22nd Dec 2009, 23:52
Track diamond / indication on ND.

We are talking an RJ!

23rd Dec 2009, 01:46
Best inventions in order have to be:

* AoA indicator or Flight Path Vector (amazingly useful)
* Track indicator

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