As aircraft age, owners become interested in methods to keep them in the air as long as possible. The process can be expensive, and ideally new systems would be integrated into original equipment to avoid wholesale replacement. Updating electronic systems is especially complicated by the additional energy and infrastructure that modern systems require. At the same time, engineers search for upgrades that will improve fuel efficiency, reduce burdens on pilots, and increase safety.
A Federal Aviation Administration draft report on “Obsolescence and Life Cycle Management for Avionics” stated “the obsolescence problem cannot be solved only by engineering methods, but also requires proactive measures and risk-awareness planning by both customers and suppliers.”
The Air Force Sustainment Center last year awarded an $8.1 million contract for support to the Air Force Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages program to manage an obsolescence-prediction system.
And to address one aspect of the issue for the Air Force, Physical Optics Corporation in California created Digital Aircraft Data Storage. The solution keeps aircraft updated and flying by increasing data transmission speeds and storage limitations — but requires no aircraft harness rewiring or operational flight program modifications to legacy aircraft.
NOTE: This article is a reprint from the 3/30 edition of our bi-weekly TechAloft Newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.