Avionics can be defined as ‘Electronic Equipment used in the air’. This simple definition touches virtually every aspect of a modern aircraft, from the Engine Computers to the Fly-by-Wire Flight Control System. It will include in a military aircraft, Weapon Aiming and Release and in a civil airliner, the Cabin Entertainment System. It embraces all sorts of Transducers (devices which convert one kind of energy to another) ranging across Gyroscopes, Fire Detectors and Hydraulic Actuators. The very latest aircraft, such as the A380 or the Boeing 787, can have hundreds of on-board computers. In fact, the A380 has over 500 kilometres of wiring on each aircraft!
Systems Engineers work on new aircraft at the conceptual stage, studying and defining what technologies can be applied. At the design stage, they generate detailed equipment specifications and design suitable equipment’s. They conduct and support flight trials and manufacture, and follow through to in-service.
The sheer variety of systems you could look at include: aircraft icing protection, avionics for advanced combat aircraft, reducing the hazardous effects of on-board fire and explosion, overcoming the obsolescence of older electronic components on in-service aircraft, improving aircrew situational awareness or the glass cockpit implementation, to name a few!
The sheer complexity of modern aircraft and constant pace of change in new available technologies places generates an enormous demand for trained engineers who enjoy understanding the latest technologies and their applications, making systems engineers at the cutting-edge and ‘high-value’ end of aerospace technology, a place where many UK aerospace and defence companies are focusing their business for the future.
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