A Forecast of the Aerospace Industry's Transition to Modular Avionics

Paper #:
  • 952022

  • 1995-09-01
Ulbrich, E., "A Forecast of the Aerospace Industry's Transition to Modular Avionics," SAE Technical Paper 952022, 1995, https://doi.org/10.4271/952022.
For forty years, the Aerospace Industry has seen a 1 percent per week growth in the capabilities of its computers, memory devices, display generators, sensors, and signal processors. At first, this was led by the Aerospace Industry, but now the leadership has been taken over by commercial companies providing for consumer products, and aerospace companies have been falling behind because of low sales, no new product developments, drawn out development programs, and their related problems.Avionics companies can see that every year, one box can replace two, and so they have one of two strategies: Be the supplier of that one box, or claw out a niche that will require their box to continue to be required. As hardware costs drop, more and more of what they do is software and many of them have previously down-played software by buying it or by using warmed-up old software.Prime contractors can see that their old ways of organization will no longer be valid for this area, and they must adapt to this new hardware and software reality by breaking their ancient molds. Meanwhile, there will be continuing pressure for more affordability; i.e., lower prices independent of higher capability requirements. The industry is going global and that adds problems of language, customers, and viewpoint. In addition, there are four superpowers, all of whom have excess capacity in their aerospace industry. So the question is, how will this industry transition to Modular Avionics.This paper shows the capability growth curves and pitfalls facing the industry. Then it shows the requirements of the industry and the probable technology road maps to be encountered. Then, it summarizes the Modular Avionics techniques available now and in the future. It then suggests that the best approach is to standardize on a COTS approach for both the commercial and military/space markets using world-wide systems available from the surviving suppliers that can be used on all of the products.
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