Introduction To Avionics For Engineers

Since the Wright Brothers took to the air, aviation has been one of the engineering fields that has changed the most quickly.

In the beginning, pilots flew planes by instinct and skill alone.

But as aviation technology has gotten better, so have the systems that keep modern planes in the air.

Avionics is the part of engineering that deals with designing, building, and maintaining the electronic systems that control everything from a plane's engines and flight controls to its communication and navigation systems.

Modern flight would not be possible without avionics.

In this article, I will talk about the fascinating world of avionics and explain why any aspiring engineer needs to know about it.

Introduction to Avionics

Formal definition:

The design and production of airborne electrical and electronic devices; term is derived from aviation electronics.

Introduction to Avionics in Engineering

Avionics is a combination of the words "aviation" and "electronics." It is the name for the electrical systems used in planes, spaceships, and man-made satellites.

These systems are very important to modern aircraft because they help with things like engine controls, flight control systems, navigation, communications, lighting systems, threat detection, fuel systems, electro-optic (EO/IR) systems, weather radar, performance monitors, and more.

The goal of this article is to give a general overview of avionics and its different parts.

Navigation Systems

Navigation is one of the most important avionics systems used in modern planes.

Navigation systems help pilots figure out where they are above the surface of the Earth and get the plane where it needs to go.

In the past, planes used radio and inertial navigation programs on the ground. Modern avionics, on the other hand, have come a long way and now use satellite systems like GPS and WAAS to give more accurate and reliable location data.

Modern avionics have extra parts added to them to improve the reliability of the navigation systems.

For example, GPS is used as the main way to find your way, and radios are used as a backup in case of an emergency.

This makes sure that the plane will still be safe even if the main navigation system stops working.

Regulatory Requirements

Before taking off, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all planes have an avionics system installed.

The rules make sure that the avionics systems of an airplane meet certain safety standards and are up to date with the latest technology.

The FAA also requires that the avionics systems be inspected and fixed on a regular basis to make sure they keep working.

Avionics Systems and Devices

Functions of Avionics Systems

Avionics systems in planes do a lot of different things, such as:

  • Engine controls: controlling and managing the plane's engines.
  • Flight control systems: making sure the plane moves and goes in the right direction.
  • Navigation: figuring out where and how the plane is
  • Communications: letting you talk to other planes and stations on the ground.
  • Flight recorders: Record information about a flight so that it can be looked into after an accident.
  • Lighting systems: allowing flights to take off and land by giving off light.
  • Threat detection: finding possible threats and telling the crew about them.
  • Fuel systems: managing and keeping track of how much fuel is used.
  • Electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) systems: They help pilots see better in low-visibility conditions.
  • Weather radar: figuring out and showing what the weather is like.
  • Performance monitors: keeping track of and showing data about how an aircraft is doing.

Location of Avionics Systems

Avionics equipment is usually found in the cockpit of an airplane.

The cockpit is where the control, monitoring, communication, navigation, weather, anti-collision, and other systems are.

A basic avionics system is made up of several parts, such as communication, navigation, display management, searchlights on police helicopters, and others.

Avionics Databus Protocols

Avionics databus protocols are used by aircraft networks to connect the avionics systems of military and commercial aircraft.

These protocols enable different systems to communicate and share information, which is essential for efficient and safe flight operations.

Electrical Power Sources

Most aircraft use 14- or 28-volt DC systems to power their avionics.

But larger and more complex planes use AC power sources with a higher voltage to power their avionics.

Avionics and Aviation Safety

Avionics is an important part of aviation safety and efficiency because it gives planes the instruments and electronics they need to avoid or deal with dangers, navigate, communicate, and work well.

Modern avionics systems offer solutions that require a lot of computing power for longer, safer, and more efficient flights in any airspace or weather.

Improving Flight Planning and Alerting Applications

Avionics technology can also help commercial airlines, corporate aviation, and helicopter operations improve flight planning and alerting by giving accurate weather information ahead of time.

This information can help reduce losses and make things safer by letting dispatchers choose alternative routes that use the least amount of gas and have the least chance of being messed up by bad weather.

Also, pilots can give their passengers a better experience when they know exactly what to expect from the weather and when to expect it.

Enhancing Safety

Pilots can avoid possible collisions and other dangers by getting information from other planes and systems on the ground.

Traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) use avionics technology to let pilots know when other planes are nearby and help them avoid possible collisions.

The safety of the plane and its passengers also depends on weather radar and satellite navigation systems.

Future of Avionics

Avionics is expected to change a lot in the next few years, thanks to improvements in technology that will lead to easier-to-use interfaces, touchscreens, sensors, and automation.

These improvements will make pilots safer and more aware of their surroundings.

Advancements in Avionics Capabilities

Avionics is changing quickly, with new technologies like unmanned aircraft, artificial intelligence, biometrics, robotics, blockchain, alternative fuels, and electric aircraft.

By 2036, the aviation industry wants to almost double the number of passengers and cargo.

This will require new technologies and ways of doing things to meet the demand.

This could include bigger screens on the flight deck, tools that make it easier to see in the dark, and sensors that can see through clouds or fog.

Connectivity in Cockpits

Over the next five years, the way that connectivity is used in cockpits is likely to change.

Trajectory-based operations and enhanced datalink will become more common.

These technologies will help pilots better predict and respond to changes in the weather, air traffic, and other things that affect flight operations.

Advancements in Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Over the next ten years, technology for unmanned aircraft systems is also likely to get better.

Textron Systems and other companies are working on new features for these systems, which could make it easier to use unmanned aircraft in a wide range of situations.

Changes in Aviation Markets

The aviation markets around the world are also expected to change a lot by 2025.

China is expected to pass the US as the world's biggest market for air travel, and India is expected to move up from seventh place to third.

These changes could make airlines compete more with each other as they look for ways to be different from their rivals.

Also, we might see new planes in the sky from companies like Eviation Alice that are making electric planes that are approved for commercial use.

Avionics Training and Certification (USA example)

To become an avionics technician or engineer, you have to finish a training program that takes about 2,000 hours and includes hands-on experience.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must approve the training program, and the candidate must also get an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) credential.

FAA regulations also say that the candidate must be at least 18 years old, speak English well, and pass written, oral, and practical tests.

Specialization in Different Roles

Avionics technicians can be bench technicians, system troubleshooters, or line technicians, among other things.

Each role needs a different set of skills and experience, so candidates should look for the right training to meet the needs of the role they want.

Options for Pursuing a Career in Avionics

Avionics technicians can get a job with just a high school diploma or the equivalent and learn on the job.

They could also get an associate's or bachelor's degree in automotive technology, aviation, or electrical engineering.

Different schools and levels of degrees have different requirements for each educational path.

Skills for a Career in Avionics

Avionics technicians must always show things like attention to detail, dependability, and the ability to think analytically.

Avionics technicians need to know about things like the FAA, hand tools, and electrical systems, but they also need to be able to think critically and solve problems in order to fix problems when they come up.

For work in the field to go well, you also need to be able to move your hands and eyes well and pay close attention to details.

Communication and Teamwork

Avionics technicians often work in teams, so they need to be able to communicate well and get along with other people.

They may also need to explain complicated technical information to other team members, pilots, or people in air traffic control, so being able to talk and write well is important.

Communication is very important in many aviation jobs, like flight crew, cabin crew, and air traffic control, where it can be a matter of life and death to get the message across clearly.

Teamwork is especially important in aviation mechanics and engineering, where people with different kinds of technical skills need to work together to make sure that complicated systems and machines are kept in good shape.

Physical Stamina and Adaptability

Physical stamina and dexterity are also important for avionics technicians, since they may need to work in tight spaces, climb ladders or work at heights, and do repetitive tasks for long periods of time.

Also, because aviation technology is always changing, avionics technicians need to be flexible and willing to learn new skills and technologies in order to keep up with the industry.

Personality Traits

Most avionics technicians are practical people who like to work outside or on projects that they can do with their hands.

They also tend to be investigatory, which means they are very curious and often like to be alone.

Avionics technicians do well on the social responsibility test, which shows that they want fair results and care about people in general.

They also tend to score high on the conscientiousness scale, which means they are methodical, reliable, and usually plan things out ahead of time.

Video: What does an Avionics engineer or technician do?

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Avionics Technician Salary

Salary Information

Depending on where you look, the average salary for an avionics technician can be different.

For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for avionics technicians in the United States was $66,440 as of May 2020.

The average salary for an avionics technician is $55,545 per year, or $26.7 per hour.

In this field, the top 10% of earners make an average of $75,000 or more per year.

Location can also affect how much an avionics technician can expect to make, with the highest paying states being Washington, California, Nevada, Alaska and Oregon.

Factors Affecting Salary

Some of the things that can affect an avionics technician's salary are their level of education, their specific job duties and responsibilities, the type of aircraft they work on (such as commercial, military, or private), and the demand for their skills in the job market.

A technician's salary may also be affected by the size of the company they work for and by any additional certifications they earn.

Other Salary Considerations

It is important to note that avionics technicians may be paid by the hour or by the month, and some may get extra money like overtime pay or bonuses.

According to the BLS, aerospace product and part manufacturing, scheduled air transportation, and support activities for air transportation pay the most for avionics technicians.

Lastly, it is important to remember that salary data can be affected by economic and industry-specific factors, and that individual earnings can vary depending on a number of factors.

Factors Affecting Avionics Cost

Avionics are expensive because of a number of things, such as:

Cost of Materials

When it comes to avionics parts, precision is very important.

Avionics systems need micromechanical parts, magnetometers, and other complex parts to work the way they are supposed to.

These specialized materials and parts are expensive, and because of that, the cost of avionics can go up by a lot.

Labor Costs

Technicians and engineers with a lot of training are needed to make, install, and fix avionics systems.

This is because avionics systems are complicated and need to be operated, maintained, and fixed by people with specialized knowledge and skills.

Because of this, the salaries of these skilled workers can add to the cost of avionics as a whole.

FAA Certification

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict rules about how avionics systems that work in the national airspace system must be built and maintained.

FAA certification is an expensive process that involves testing and evaluating avionics systems very carefully to make sure they follow safety rules.

The cost of getting FAA certification can be a big part of the cost of avionics as a whole.

Limited Production Volume

Because there are not that many planes in use, avionics companies make fewer parts, which means that each part costs more.

This is because the cost of making a single part is spread over a smaller number of units, making it more expensive to make.

Avionics are expensive because they are made of precise parts, require FAA certification, and are only made in small quantities.

These things add to the cost of avionics systems, making them a big investment for people who own or run aircraft.

Avionics in Military and Commercial Aviation

Both the military and commercial aviation use avionics technology in many ways. It can help with things like navigation, communication, flight control, and spotting threats.

Military aircraft avionics systems are made to meet stricter standards than commercial systems. They may have features like electronic countermeasures, encrypted communication, and sensors that can spot incoming missiles or enemy aircraft.

Avionics technology has led to the development of better weather radar and navigation systems that make flying safer and more efficient, as well as more advanced flight management systems that can save fuel and cut down on pollution.

Differences between Military and Commercial Aviation

Because military planes face unique and often difficult conditions, their avionics systems tend to be stronger and more reliable than those in commercial planes.

Military planes may also have extra avionics features like encrypted communication, electronic countermeasures, and threat detection systems.

Recent Advances in Avionics Technology

Recent improvements in avionics technology have led to new features like fly-by-wire systems, fully electronic displays, and communication through fiber optics.

Some technologies that were made for the military are now being used on civilian jetliners.

Other interesting uses of avionics technology in both military and commercial aviation include synthetic vision systems, heads-up displays, augmented reality systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and precision landing systems.

Next-Generation Avionics Technologies

New research is being done on next-generation avionics technologies, such as electric hybrid aircraft powered by batteries or fuel cells, advanced navigation systems that use satellite-based air traffic control, and autonomous flight control systems that can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

Overall, avionics technology continues to be a key part of both military and civilian aviation, making planes safer, more efficient, and able to do more.

Use cases

Used in:Description:
Navigation SystemsAvionics can not work without navigation systems. They have GPS, inertial navigation, and other systems that help pilots figure out where they are and how to get around safely. These systems use sensors, computers, and software to tell pilots in real time where they are, how fast they are going, and how high up they are.
Flight Control SystemsAnother important way that avionics are used is in flight control systems. These systems use sensors and computer programs to keep the plane steady and in control while it is in the air. They can help pilots keep their altitude, speed, and direction, as well as watch for and adjust for turbulence and other conditions in the air.
Communication SystemsAnother important part of avionics is communication systems. There are radios, transponders, and other devices in these systems that let pilots talk to people on the ground, other pilots, and other parts of the aviation infrastructure. Communication systems help pilots get up-to-date information about the weather, instructions from air traffic control, and other important information.
Safety SystemsAvionics systems can also have safety features like avoiding collisions, detecting and warning about the terrain, and using weather radar. These systems use sensors, algorithms, and software to find and deal with possible dangers. This helps keep the plane and its passengers safe.
Engine ManagementAvionics can also be used to control the engines of an airplane. Sensors and computers are used in these systems to keep track of engine performance, fuel use, and other factors. This lets pilots improve engine performance and save fuel.


As we have seen, avionics is an important part of modern aviation.

Its job is to make sure that flights are safe and run smoothly, as well as to save fuel and cut down on pollution.

But as aviation changes, so will the tasks that avionics engineers have to do.

As self-driving planes become more common and the need for real-time data and analytics grows, avionics will become an even more important part of the future of aviation.

And the future looks good for people who want to work in avionics.

With the need for highly skilled avionics engineers growing all the time, there are almost endless opportunities for personal and professional growth.

So, avionics is a field you should look into whether you are an experienced engineer or just starting out.

There is never been a better time to dive into the fascinating world of avionics, with its unique challenges, cutting-edge technology, and important role in the aviation world.

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