Introduction to Avionics:

Need for Avionics in Civil, Military and Space Systems:

Avionics are the advanced electronics used in aircraft, spacecraft and satellites. These systems perform various functions include communication, navigation, flight control, display systems, flight management etc. There is a great need for advanced avionics in civil, military and space systems.

Civil aircraft

1. For better flight control, performing computations and increased control over flight control surfaces.

2. For navigation, provide information using sensors like Altitude and Head Reference System (AHRS).

3. Provide air data like altitude, atmospheric pressure, temperature, etc.

4. Reduce crew workload.

5. Increased safety for crew and passengers.

6. Reduction in aircraft weight which can be translated into increased number of passengers or long range.

7. All weather operation and reduction in aircraft maintenance cost.

Military aircraft

1. Avionics in fighter aircraft eliminates the need for a second crew member like navigator, observer etc., which helps in reducing the training costs.

2. A single seat fighter is lighter and costs less than an equivalent two seat version.

3. Improved aircraft performance, control and handling.

4. Reduction in maintenance cost.

5. Secure communication.

Space systems

1. Fly-by-wire communication system used for space vehicle’s attitude and translation control.

2. Sensors used in the spacecraft for obtaining data.

3. Autopilot redundancy system.

4. On-board computers used in satellites for processing the data.

Integrated Avionics Systems

Using state-of-the-art digital technology, we’re meeting the needs of the world’s evolving airspace, offering flexibility and enhanced performance through highly reliable, integrated avionics systems essential to aircraft operation.

Aviation computing systems

GE (General Electric)’s pioneering work in modular processing systems and ability to integrate third party software led to the selection of our high integrity systems on a number of civil and military aircraft. These solutions provide a truly open architecture system that integrates the aircraft’s computers, networks and interfacing electronics, and hosts avionics and utilities functions providing major cost benefits. Aviation computing systems also provide a vehicle-level systems integration capability that offers our customers turnkey solutions.

Controls and interface systems

GE is a provider of configurable controls and interface systems required for today’s modular and simplified vehicle system architectures. This product family comprises a range of highly flexible remote interfacing products tailored to meet a range of applications and customers – from distributed Input/output (I/O) management to actuation control.

Crew interface systems

As a designer, manufacturer and innovator of crew interface systems for civil and military customers, GE offers a wide range of displays as stand-alone or as part of an integrated solution for new or retrofit applications. Modular design approaches enable maximum reuse across the product portfolio, and a commitment to using the latest design techniques ensures delivery of world-class and affordable through-life solutions. GE’s fuel system capabilities include both stand-alone and integrated fuel gauging solutions using a unique set of technologies. GE also specializes in the design, manufacture and testing of custom electronic components and subsystems.

Navigation and guidance systems

GE’s flight management systems (FMS) are specified by the world’s leading airlines. Combining FMS and required navigation performance (RNP) technology, our systems are delivering benefits like reduced fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions and lowered community noise to Air Traffic Management customers around the world. GE’s FMS optimized profile descent (OPD), a hardware and software avionics system that manages and optimizes an entire flight plan, is one of the most recent products to become ecomagination qualified.

Military customers also gain the latest commercial technology to enhance mission effectiveness. With the prevalence of UAVs increasing in armed forces around the world, GE is ensuring top performance by developing the solutions needed to empower autonomous navigation. GE’s military land vehicle heading/pointing and land navigation systems are provided to various new and existing military vehicles, providing precision determination for any mission.

Vehicle Health and Data Management systems

As a provider of information solutions to the aerospace, defense and related high-technology industries, GE supports the full mission cycle with end-to-end maintenance, safety and training information systems. We support product areas like data transfer and mass storage, integrated vehicle health management, data acquisition and recording, video and imagery management systems and ground support systems. These systems, already in use on thousands of aircraft, have been further developed for numerous new aircraft, including the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter.

Mission systems

GE is a recognized leader in the control and processing of all mission-related functionality of military aircraft. We have extensive experience in a wide variety of systems and technologies, including stores management systems and autonomous air refueling systems.


Avionics Subsystem (AS) Definition
The SCAN Testbed AS serves as the flight computer that provides an interface to the subsystems (SDRs and RF Subsystem) and carrier. It will be used to monitor health and status, control power, sequence experiments and perform data processing and routing. The SCAN Testbed AS is a single box solution used to perform payload operations. The AS is comprised of the following components:

Avionics enclosure



MIL STD 1553 (Qty: 2)

Data Storage

DC/DC converter

Spacewire card

A/D card

Custom cards developed by GRC

Power Switching (Qty: 2)

Digital Input/Output signal (Level Shifting) (Qty: 2)

MIL-STD-1553 Coupling Transformer


Figure 6-15: provides an overview of the SCAN Testbed AS. AITech is the vendor that will be used for the Avionics Enclosure, Processor, Ethernet, 1553/ DIO, Data Storage, and Power Supply. Dundee is the vendor for the SpaceWire Card.


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