Avionics News May 2019 - 32

industry

COCKPIT
CORRELATION
Avionics networks, software updates, and datalinks

S

The Airtext Iridium connection is about the size of a
small paperback book and weighs about a pound.

32

avionics news

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may

2019

S T O R Y

B Y

S C O T T

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S P A N G L E R

itting in an avionics shop waiting area, aircraft owners passing
the time on their phones or tablets surely see the relationship
between the computer they hold in their hands and the
networked computers in their cockpits. And they probably wonder, with all
that technology has to offer, why their avionics can't automatically update
their software and enjoy nearly universal connectivity.
There are two kinds of software, and "firmware is in its own little world
in comparison to databases," said Bill Stone, Garmin's senior business
development manager. "Technically, automatically updating firmware
wouldn't be hard to do. But in our regulatory environment, firmware
updates are a maintenance action. That means authorized maintenance
personnel must do them and record compliance with an STC via a (FAA
Form) 337. That disqualifies firmware updates being done automatically."
Checking the integrity of downloaded firmware is not difficult, said
Grady Dees, Universal Avionics director of technical sales. "But verifying
that they were properly installed, set up, and configured in the avionics is
much more difficult. The more flight-related, flight-critical a system is, the
more onerous the certification requirements."
But the regulatory environment can change; the STC installation of nonTSO systems is proof of that. Automatic firmware updates that verify their
integrity and setup will come to aviation. "We expect avionics to move in
this direction," said Jeff Kauffman, BendixKing's senior product marketing
manager. Automobiles are already doing this, he added, citing Tesla as an
example. "We have reached this threshold and are actively looking at this
for BendixKing's next-generation products."



Avionics News May 2019

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Avionics News May 2019 - Intro
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Avionics News May 2019 - Cover2
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Avionics News May 2019 - Cover3
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