Im reading a book called The Aviators and they have mentioned avionics several times but have not said what it is. If anyone knows please fill me in. The helicopter in the book is the CH-47 Chinook.
AFAIK the termis a contraction of ‘Aviation Electronics’, and would therefore probably refer to anything from the artificial horizon to the radio.
Avionics are the gauges and instruments in the cockpit that tell the pilot his attitude, his heading, airspeed, engine performance, fuel quantity, navigational information, and other things the pilot has to monitor during flight. IIRC, they’re pretty standard between fixed-wing aircraft and rotary-wing aircraft.
*The aircraft’s attitude, not the pilot’s. However the two are usually linked.
Although the term originated as a contraction of “aviation electronics”, it has now mutated to cover pretty much any gauge on the insturment panel, including the pitot-static system that runs on ram air and pressure differentials and doesn’t require electricity.
Or in plainer English - while the airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, and altimeter in many aircraft (both fixed wing and rotor) do not use electricity, they are often lumped in with “avionics”
There’s a large overlap between the standard equipment on helicoptors and airplanes. After all, both types need to know how high they are, how fast they’re going both horizontally and vertically, how well the engine is running, how much fuel is left, where to go and how to get there, they use the same sort of radios, and so foth.
In terms of who owns what, aircraft are generally divided into:
Often or generally these 3 will be owned by seperate parties. So another way of looking at the ‘Avionics’ is as everything other than the ‘Hull’ and ‘Engines.’
Do you mean ‘made’ by different companies?
I see why you would break them into those categories, but it seems a bit broad to me. I think it would be better to say that avionics are ‘instruments and radios’.
No, ‘owned.’ Odd as it may sound, the parts of an aircraft may be owned by different companies, partnerships or interests. If this sounds complicated, be assured the situation with maritime vessels is more so.
My dad owned a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 182, including airframes, avionics and engines. The helicopters I flew were 100% owned by a company that was owned by the company that rented them. There are partnerships where two, three, or more people may own ‘shares’ of an aircraft; but they each own a share of the entire aircraft. If I’m buying an R-22, rest assured that I’ll own the whole thing.
I would guess he’s speaking in terms of large military and commercial aircraft. “Own” can be a bit of a loose term, but when used in the context meaning “has responsibility for” then I think you might agree.
For example in a USAF fighter, Raytheon is likely contracted for the avionics, Boeing with the airframe, and GE with the propulsion system. The USAF owns the aircraft in the sense that they have the pink slip, but the service and expertise (not to mention patents and other proprietary details) on each component is still under the auspices of the manufacturer.
IME, when a book, reference or technical document refers to Avionics they usually are discussing the flight computer, autopilot and fly-by-wire systems. Gauges and such are occasionally mislabeled as “avionics” but my professors would give you the stink-eye if you didn’t adress them as “instrumentation”. In modern aircraft the instrumentation is linked to the flight computer (sometimes wholly depended on it in glass cockpits) and therefore the line between the two is blurred.
Ah. I was thinking in terms of A-stars, JetRangers, etc.
I’d still say it was the Airforce (or the US government really) who owns those aircraft. Raytheon isn’t able to turn up one day and say “hey, we’re just comming to pick up the flight guidance computers from your F15s, hope you didn’t need them.”
The company I work for certainly owns every bit of its aircraft. Hull, avionics, and engines. I could imagine an airline that leased its aircraft may have different bits owned by different companies, but it sounds a bit odd.
Between yourselves you have correctly surmised my position. I did not state what I know about light aircraft. Yes I was thinking only of large commercial operations, not military aircraft though. I only know about civilian aircraft.
OTOH, I realise it sounds odd for a company to own or lease only bits of an aircraft, but that is how it often works, for the big commercials. IIRC it is the engines and avionics that will be leased or seperately owned from the flag company. It’s really to do with the differing maintenance intervals and safety standards. It is not economical for airline to have its won ‘spare engine/avionics’ division.
…for each airline to have its own…
And this is why I said the USAF owns the pink slip, IOW holds the title and legal ownership. However, when a defense contractor sells the government a aircraft, or their portion of it, they are under contract to support and warranty the performance of that part. So in that context, you could say it’s their part.
Of course, this differs from what Sevastpol has since posted. He seems to be claiming that commercial aircraft buyers, airlines and the like, lease compenents of the plane under seperate contracts. Under the logic that the engines and avionics have different life-cycles than the airframe I suppose it’s not totally out of the question, but I’d need a cite to be convinced. Can’t say I’ve ever heard that specifically but then I haven’t been privy to the financial side of the industry.
In the same way that Hewlett Packard owns my PC. It doesn’t matter though, semantics.
Yeah, I don’t know either. My company is not really comparable to an airline so I can’t speak from experience.
My First job out of college was as a flight controls engineer for Sperry (now absorbed into Honeywell/AlliedSignal)
In that job, Avionics pretty much meant any and all of the electronic systems on an aircraft. From flight control systems, to radios, various radar sets, to cockpit displays.
Due to operating enviroment, reliability and redundancy requirements, weight restrictions, cooling concerns, FAA or military qualification requirements, etc. Building electronics for aircraft is a fairly involved sub-disipline within the more general field of electronics.
It is broken out within the maintainance field, as A&P (Airframe and powerplant) mechnics tend to be more “gearhead” types, and these tend to have limited skill, interest or desire for working on the aircraft wiring. (Yes, there are exceptions, I personally know a couple) There is quite a bit to installing avionics so that they are reliable, can’t cause a fire, and don’t interfere with each other.
I’ve worked for an airline (Northwest/KLM) in the performance engineering dept. Naturally this involved close contact w/ the maintenance depts.
I have never heard of any company only owning a specific “part” of an aircraft. Various maintenance is often contracted out to specialists, either to the manufacturer or a 3rd party maintenance specialist, but the airline still “owns” every bit of the aircraft.
AFAIK, nobody leases engines, let alone avionics. So I’ll need to see a cite for that as well!
Thanks for the links.
That’s certainly a new one for me! I guess it’s more of an option for smaller airlines and regional outfits.
I stand corrected.