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What is avionics and what are the stakes for the aerospace world ?

What is Avionics ?

The term Avionics comes from the combination of "Aviation" and "Electronics" and appears for the first time in 1949 by Philip J. Klass in the magazine “Aviation Week & Space Technology ”. According to Wikipedia , Avionics refers to the electronic systems used on aircraft.

We can extend this definition and add that avionics is the set of electronic, electrical and computer equipment used to pilot aircraft and spacecraft in airspace or extra-planetary environments where pressure, temperature and humidity conditions are unusual for conventional electrical, electromechanical and computer systems.

Avionics" involves thus, a wide range of technologies and instruments that help pilots operate the aircraft safely and efficiently. These systems can be communication systems, navigation systems, displays, sensors... all the tools needed to enable pilots to make the best decisions during flight.

What is the evolution of Avionics ?

The origins of avionics date back to the early 20th century, when aircraft were essentially mechanical and lacked sophisticated electronic systems. However, with technological advances and the need to improve the efficiency and safety of flight operations, avionics began to take shape. The beginnings of avionics were driven by the need to communicate between aircraft, particularly for military operations. In 1910, the US Navy carried out the first experimental radio transmission. These communication systems were widely used and improved during the First World War.

After WW1, governments continued to invest in avionics for defense purposes, and in the 1930s developed the very first radar systems. Many avionics-related technologies first saw the light of day during WW2 or wartime, such as autopilot technologies. These technologies began as specialized systems to help bombers fly smoothly enough to hit high-altitude precision targets.

In the following decades, the rapid evolution of microelectronics and digital technology had a profound impact on avionics. Analog instruments gave way to digital displays, offering pilots more precise and comprehensive information about the aircraft's status. The advent of fly-by-wire technology, replacing mechanical controls with electronic systems, introduced a new level of stability, control, and efficiency in flight operations.

Integrated modular avionics (IMA) emerged as a game-changing concept in the late 20th century. IMA involves consolidating multiple avionics functions onto a common platform, reducing weight, complexity, and maintenance costs. This modular approach allows for easier upgrades and scalability, accommodating the ever-evolving demands of the aviation industry.

Furthermore, the rise of drones has spurred advancements in avionics technology. These autonomous aircraft heavily rely on advanced navigation, control, and communication systems to operate safely and effectively. Avionics for drones has pushed the boundaries of miniaturization, power efficiency, and data processing, enabling new possibilities in fields such as aerial surveillance, package delivery, and scientific research.

Examples of Avionics Systems

Avionics consists of both hardware and software which work together to provide the best insights to the flight team. Hardware includes physical electronic components such as instruments, displays, sensors, processors, antennas, cables and so on. These hardware components are responsible for collecting, transmitting and processing the data required for the proper operation of avionics systems.

On the other hand, software comprises computer programs specially designed to control and manage the various functions of avionics systems. These programs process data collected by sensors, display information on cockpit screens, calculate flight performance, manage communications, control navigation systems, and much more.

Avionics Hardware

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Flight Management System :

The FMS is a hardware component that integrates various sensors, processors, and interfaces to automate flight-related tasks. It includes a computer system, control panel, and associated hardware to manage navigation, performance, and guidance functions.

Weather Radar System :

The weather radar system utilizes radar technology to detect and display weather conditions in the vicinity of the aircraft. It consists of radar antennas, receivers, and displays that provide real-time weather information to the pilots.

Primary Flight Display :

The PFD replaces traditional analog instruments with a digital display. It presents essential flight information, including airspeed, altitude, attitude, and navigation data. The PFD hardware includes the display screen, graphics processors, and associated circuitry.

Engine Instrumentation System :

The engine instrumentation system comprises components such as sensors, probes, and displays that monitor and provide real-time data on engine parameters, fuel consumption, and other vital information. It ensures optimal engine performance and facilitates engine health monitoring.

Avionics Software

Flight Management Software :

The flight management software runs on the FMS hardware and provides pilots with tools to plan and manage flight routes, calculate fuel consumption, and optimize performance. It incorporates algorithms for navigation, performance calculations, and flight planning.

Navigation Software :

Navigation software is responsible for processing data from navigation systems such as GPS and inertial navigation systems. It calculates the aircraft's position, direction, and altitude, and assists pilots in accurate navigation. This software includes algorithms for position calculation, route planning, and waypoint management.

Communication Software :

Communication software enables the exchange of information between the aircraft and ground stations. It includes protocols, interfaces, and applications for voice communication, data link messaging (such as ACARS), and transponder operations. This software ensures reliable and secure communication during flight.

Flight Control Software :

Flight control software operates on the aircraft's flight control system, which includes hardware components like sensors, actuators, and control surfaces. It interprets pilot inputs, adjusts flight surfaces, and manages control laws to maintain stability and maneuverability. This software incorporates control algorithms, feedback loops, and fault tolerance mechanisms.

What is the future prospective for Avionics ?

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AI and Machine Learning

AI and ML technologies are instrumental in creating intelligent avionics systems. By leveraging these technologies, avionics systems can learn from historical data and make predictive analyses, enhancing the overall efficiency of air travel. For instance, AI/ML can be used for predictive maintenance to identify potential faults before they become critical, thereby increasing aircraft availability and reducing maintenance costs.

AI and ML also have potential in revolutionizing air traffic management. With air traffic expected to double in the next two decades, advanced AI algorithms could help manage complex airspace configurations, optimize routes in real-time, and minimize congestion.

Next-Generation Communication

As data becomes increasingly vital in aviation, next-generation communication systems, like the Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communication System, are being developed. Built on WiMAX technology, AeroMACS provides secure, high-bandwidth, and high-performance data communications on the airport surface, leading to better traffic flow, improved safety, and enhanced efficiency.

Space-based communication is another promising prospect. As companies continue to launch low Earth orbit satellites, we're looking at a future where global, real-time aircraft tracking, even over oceans and remote areas, becomes a reality.

Advanced Navigation Systems

Enhancements in navigation technology, such as the global implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast systems, are paving the way for more accurate tracking and identification of aircraft. This advancement allows for more efficient use of airspace and improved safety.

With the rise of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), like the American GPS, European Galileo, Russian GLONASS, and Chinese BeiDou, aircraft can benefit from more precise and reliable navigation services. The fusion of multiple GNSS constellations offers redundancy and robustness, reducing the chance of signal loss and ensuring continuous operation.

Green Avionics

With growing concerns about environmental impact, the future of avionics must be green. The development of Electric Aircraft Propulsion systems and the integration of avionics with hybrid-electric systems will play a significant role in reducing CO2 emissions.

Additionally, avionics systems that optimize fuel burn, reduce noise pollution, and facilitate efficient flight paths will be key contributors to sustainable aviation.

What are the challenges of implementing an efficient avionics system ?

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Technological Complexity

As avionics systems incorporate advanced technologies like AI, ML, and cybersecurity measures, their design, development, and maintenance have become increasingly complex. High degrees of interconnectivity between systems and the management of vast amounts of data require superior technological competencies. Building this technical expertise and managing this complexity are significant challenges facing the industry.

Regulatory Compliance

Aviation is one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world. Avionics systems must comply with a host of regulations laid down by various international bodies like the Federal Aviation Administration , European Union Aviation Safety Agency , and International Civil Aviation Organization .

Regulations and standards for avionics cybersecurity, like DO-326A/ED-202A , are also important and challenging to implemented. Keeping up with these regulatory changes and ensuring compliance is a daunting task, but it is essential to maintain safety and trust in the aviation industry.


With an ever-increasing dependence on digital systems and data communication, the risk of cyber-attacks is a critical challenge. Protecting avionics systems from these threats requires continuous updating and refinement of security measures, which could include real-time monitoring, encryption, intrusion detection, and response systems. Furthermore, with evolving threats, ensuring cybersecurity is an ongoing challenge.


With multiple navigation and communication systems like GNSS , AeroMACS , etc., operating simultaneously, ensuring that they work seamlessly with one another is a major challenge. Interoperability becomes even more crucial with multinational operations, where a standard system must interact flawlessly with various regional systems.

Cost Considerations

Implementing advanced avionics systems is a costly endeavor. The expenses involve not only the initial acquisition and installation but also the avionics maintenance and update costs. For many airlines and other stakeholders, managing these costs while maintaining competitiveness is a significant challenge.

Workforce Training

Advanced avionics systems require highly skilled personnel for operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. However, there's a growing skills gap in the industry. Providing training to the workforce to keep them abreast of the latest technologies is a daunting yet crucial task.

How Trout Software can become a part of your avionics ?

Access systems difficult to reach 

Leverage our pre-built connectors to easily connect to all your avionics and start read data from your systems with Trout Software technology.

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Increase collaboration between operators, support and the pilots 

Trout Software enables operators, support teams and pilots to leverage operating playbooks to respond to issues that may arise in their systems.

You can then define playbooks and operating procedures based on machine and systems logs. No pipeline to build, no code requirements, simple access to transfer your knowledge.

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Trout Software simplifies the collaboration between stakeholders by bringing everyone on - literraly - the same page.

Scale the impact of your teams through automation 

Schedule your playbooks to run over time to monitor systems states and detect potential risks, from operation to cyber.

Our Scheduler will allow you to automate your playbook in 3 clicks:

  • Select the playbook you've just created
  • Set your automation parameters (day of first check, recurrence, time between checks)
  • Click on Schedule.
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Trout Software will alert your team when specified events happen, exposing the relevant playbook to apply.

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