Aging Aircraft and Obsolete
Chapter Summit 2011
Topic Leader: Kenneth Bandelier
• Evaluate material integrity of airframes with current flight status, safety guidelines,
and project future needs of airframes and avionics.
• It must be recognized that the compliance for regulations for safety are the primary
impetus that drives avionics development and adoption. Therefore, decisions
regarding the selection of cost effective avionics solutions that will provide adequate
regulatory and safety compliance longevity need to be considered in the context of
the aircraft it is to be used.
Leasing avionics was determined to be the overall best solution. This applies most
conclusively with respect to current airframes.
For UAVs and spacecraft, it may be more cost effective to utilize COTS technology
specifically since the regulatory landscape is not as well defined.
Increased finance pressure on avionics users and regulatory bodies in the near term could
favor a solution that is more heavily weighted towards cost reductions which would favor a
strategy like COTS based avionics.
All of these strategies have been used successfully to some degree by companies involved
in the avionics industry in certain market segments.
Aerospace Industry Worldwide
Global Aerospace and Defense Projections
• U.S. aerospace industry shipments in 2010 were
valued at $171 billion.
Important Market Segments
1. Commercial Transport
• Large Aircraft – Passenger / Air Freight
• Regional / Business Jets
• War Fighters
3. Space & Sub-orbital
• Satellite Delivery
• Space Exploration / Tourism
• Military / Government Agency
5. General Aviation
• Small / Personal aircraft
Typical Avionics Cost
For B787 – Avionics cost upwards of $20 million
Typical Age of Airframe & Avionics
Not uncommon for service life of 20+ years
• Depends on craft usage
• Must continue to comply with
regulatory / safety requirements
• Cost of maintainability a factor
1. Establish cost reduction option for
implementation of avionics and navigational
2. Evaluate suitability of regulations governing
UAVs, spacecraft, and current airframes.
3. Consider leased INS or other NAV equipment
that plugs and plays.
4. Make the right Nav-Aid and collision avoidance
decisions today for flight safety tomorrow.
Cost Reduction Strategies
1. Reduce number of dedicated discrete avionics with
integrated avionics performing multiple functions.
2. Re-use older avionics designs with minor updates to
accommodate new aircraft requirements.
3. Replace older avionics designs with avionics based
upon newer COTS technology.
4. Leasing avionics for aircraft.
Cost Reduction Analysis
1. Integrated multi-purpose Avionics
The GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR) is the first certified example
of an integrated navigational system that incorporates signals from
multiple types of navigational and landing systems; including GPS
[WAAS and LAAS], GNSS, VOR, MLS, and ILS while integrating them
into a single unit.
Assumed cost reduction of integrated unit
• Avionics with one primary function (VOR, ILS, etc.) cost ~ $20,000 to
$60,000 USD versus integrated avionics (MMR) cost ~ $70,000 USD
• Avionics spare pool for 1 MMR versus multiple discrete avionics savings
cost ~ $100,000 USD
• Maintenance costs savings generated from not supporting multiple avionics
with dedicated test bench and specialized technician ~ $150,000 USD
• Integrated avionics failure impacts multiple aircraft functions reliability
• Avionics design complexity increased
Cost Reduction Analysis
2. Re-use existing avionics with minor updates
Assumed cost reduction of minor updates
• Avionics already working; minimal updating for new desired
aircraft compatibility / features
• Established maintenance knowledge and equipment readily
• Ability to add newer technologies limited
• Obsolescence a concern with older avionics designs
Honeywell providing updated Quantum Line
avionics for Boeing’s new 787 aircraft.
Cost Reduction Analysis
3. Using newer COTS technology
Assumed cost reduction for COTS
• Components have broad user base and therefore lower costs
• Initial development costs for technology paid for by other
commercial interests of consumer industry
• Plentiful and cheap replacement parts for maintenance
• Susceptible to obsolescence due to abrupt changes in consumer
preferences for new or different technology
• Reliability and redundancy of COTS technology not up to
aerospace / military requirements
Avionics Full-Duplex Switched
Ethernet (AFDX) is based on
IEEE 802.3 Ethernet technology
and utilizes commercial off-the-
shelf (COTS) components.
Cost Reduction Analysis
4. Leasing avionics for aircraft
Assumed cost reduction of leasing
• Leasing is a fraction of cost of owning avionics outright
• OEMs cover repairs of avionics
• Need for owning avionics spares can be eliminated
• Greater cost predictability
• Lengthy contract periods
• Limited flexibility to alter avionics after lease initiated
An extension of leasing is the “power by
the hour” concept whereby customers
are billed at a predetermined rate per
Suitability of Regulations
• Regulations issued through local aviation authorities such as FAA, CAAC,
• Regulations crafted to date based upon empirical results of aviation industry
over several decades.
• Regulations rely upon international cooperation and agreement fostered by
standards bodies such as ICAO and ARINC.
• For UAVs….
Regulations not currently sufficient; Military needs were initially the main focus not civilian aviation
concerns but now trying to adopt civilian regulations.
Operationally, UAVs typically operate in different airspace than civilian aircraft.
Avionics are currently not well suited for UAVs and have to be replaced with avionics designed
specifically for UAV needs.
• For spacecraft….
Industry dominated by government entities (DoD, NASA, etc.) but FAA is gearing up for expected
commercial space launches in near future.
FAA initiative to partner with NASA and DoD for various projects to support the integration of
commercial space transportation operations in the National Airspace System to be completed by
June 30, 2011.
FAA initiative to develop and implement strategies to enable safe commercial space flight
operations that involve on-board crew, and other space flight participants to be completed August
• For current airframes….
Regulatory entities like the FAA have more than 50 years experience crafting regulations.
Aviation safety continues to improve even as aviation system capacity and complexity continue to
FAA implementing ambitious agenda with the implementation of NextGen air transportation system.
FAA and other regulatory bodies in danger of budget cuts due to government struggles with
sagging worldwide economy.
Overall Metric Evaluation
Avoid Obsolescence Cost Regulatory Approval Totals
(weighted 15%) (weighted 25%) (weighted 60%)
1. Integrated multi-purpose Avionics 4 4 4 4
2. Re-use existing avionics with minor updates 1 4 4 3.55
3. Replacing with COTS technology 4 5 3 3.65
4. Leasing avionics 2 3 5 4.05
NOTE: Scale 1 to 5 with 5 being most desirable
1. UAVs 3
2. Spacecraft 2
3. Current Airframes 5
Best Overall =
Best in category =