Avionics News October 2016 - 16
S T O R Y
D A V E
H I G D O N
eather - heat, cold and humidity. Today, weather extremes drive considerable debate
and discussion. But we have long known that extreme temperatures are a consideration
Engines need time to warm up before they can provide maximum power; ditto for people and, surprising to some, aircraft avionics. Cold can induce damage to aircraft engines in much the same way cholesterol can trigger a damaged human heart. And excessive temperatures are an anathema to electronics. Just
ask electronic flight-bag users about leaving their tablet computer on the glareshield or seat for the sun to
heat it to the point that it shuts itself down.
Modern avionics stand in stark contrast with avionics of decades past. The last 30 years brought some,
but comparatively little evolution in piston aircraft engines - particularly in Part 23 aircraft. In contrast,
avionics have evolved at a heady pace, with generational advances arriving every few years.
Today's evolved avionics products suffer less from extreme cold - and only slightly more from insufficient cooling in hot conditions. Heat is problem for digital electronics in consumer, industrial and commercial products. But compared to a few decades ago, temperature extremes must truly be extreme before
today's avionics systems begin to balk from the effect of environmental extremes in both directions.
It's truly a change from decades past. At least for aircraft electronics systems.