The Problem of Obsolete Avionics

The Problem of Obsolete Avionics

Aircraft designed in the last century were expected to have a service life of 20 to 30 years; however, many aircraft are being flown longer or upgraded for life extension. One issue that fleet owners face for their older aircraft is the obsolescence of avionics systems. This paper presents different strategies for addressing this growing problem, including replacing obsolete line replaceable units (LRUs) using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products.

Using custom COTS for managing obsolescence

All aircraft are sold with an estimated lifespan of service. Usually, it is anticipated that, under normal usage, you would expect to get many years, e.g., 20, out of the aircraft before it needs replacing.

An aircraft’s various onboard systems have supply and maintenance contracts designed with this lifespan in mind; however, many aircraft end up in service for longer than initially anticipated, creating part obsolescence issues. It gets harder to find a way to replace or repair a part as time goes on, and aircraft can be grounded if a necessary part fails and there is no replacement.

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