Keeping an aeroplane in the air is a complex affair. It has taken years of honing the skills of technical teams to ensure that the planes we fly on today are safe and reliable under any circumstances. Considering the weight of the metal frame it is quite remarkable that an aeroplane can get off the ground at all. In this day and age aircraft in the sky at any one time it is vital that they are all running with modern, safe, reliable equipment. Thankfully there are many high-end companies who produce modular instrumentation and components that work together to be able to transport us anywhere in the world safely and quickly whenever we need.
It doesn’t matter whether you are flying on a private jet, or a commercial airline the standard of equipment is always first rate. Avionics systems spent a long time in development and testing, and the most recent additions to the market have been collaborations between many different manufacturers. While each company works on the specialist component in their field, all of these components are modular and designed to be able to work with anybody else’s hardware and software. This makes engineers lives a lot easier as they can select components from a wide array, and they will all work together once installed in the plane.
A vital component for any plane is the satellite navigation module, as this ensures that the pilot stays on track and doesn’t drift into anyone else’s flight path. Similar in design to a domestic Sat Nav, and made by Garmin who are also a big name commercially these clever devices not only locate and guide the plane but also keep an eye on the weather, flight plans of other aircraft in the area, topographical maps, and all of this can be operated from a single touch screen right in front of the pilot anytime he needs it. This level of navigation ensures that all of the passengers and the crew are kept safe and sound at all times. These extremely complex modules are designed to work well with anything else on board the aircraft including the many different sensors that are needed all over the plane to feedback to the main computer.
To the untrained eye the panel in front of the pilot may just look like a lot of bright lights. One part of the panel is made up of sensors, that are feeding information from all over the plane that is vital to the pilot both before, during and after the flight. These sensors include things like the fuel tank levels, which define how far the flight plane can fly without refuelling. you will also find sensors that keep an eye on the core temperature of the engines and assess if there is any overheating and damage. Another vital part of plane mechanics is the brakes and hydraulic fluids so naturally you will find sensors there monitoring both the brakes and the flaps and keeping an eye on hydraulic pressure. If one of these sensors comes across an issue the light on the dashboard will immediately notify the pilot and enable him to take corrective action and fix the problem. Some sensor lights could also ensure that the plane does not take off until an issue has been rectified and the plane is safe again.
The pilot must be able to communicate immediately with ground crew and cabin crew. Pilots also have communication available to the passenger compartments of the aircraft, and also to any other Max off that might be in visual range. Again, this type of communication system is very complex and has different features depending on who the pilot is talking to. One thing they need to be sure of is that vital communications are not lost because of interference from modern devices like mobile phones. For this reason, the radio frequency for ground communications and other aircraft only 118-236 MHz as this is a clear and safe frequency not used by these devices. Another clever feature of aircraft communication system is 3D voice audio, this means that the pilot is able to have multiple feeds at the same time coming into the cockpit as if he were talking to other people in a conversation. So, the ground control feed might come from his left side, where the crew communicate from his right side. This is more in line with natural conversation and easier for the brain to distinguish which feed the pilot is listening to at any one time. Again, these devices are incredibly expensive and will set the build back thousands of pounds. These are just a few of the impressive avionic technology devices that are used in modern aircraft. You also have things like headphones, entertainment systems, and much more which explains why the cost of building aircraft is so high.