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Supporting Aerospace projects for the long term is getting harder

05 July 2018

With long design cycles and operational life of aircraft, designers have to be assured that parts they design in can be sourced for a long time. 10 years is a minimum, and probably in the end support will be required for multiples of that.

Mechanical parts will probably be custom machined, so will be manufacturable into the future, but aircraft have more and more electronics incorporated in them. Even custom designed electronics will use “off the shelf” components. Today the electronics world moves much more quickly than a 10 year life. Many electronic components that were commonplace 10 years ago are no longer available. 

Back in the 80s I worked on Military electronics design and we were not allowed to design in the “latest” components because they had to be properly qualified and have reliability statistics before they could be approved for use. I am sure that it’s many times more difficult for designers of avionics today but that they are well versed in what is required.

But there are some areas where the fast changing technology and need for long support can cause issues that were not necessarily considered – The avionics and even those custom mechanicals will need to be inspected and tested. Can the test systems be supported for tens of years? Will the computer peripheral bus still be supported? How about the operating system?

Read the rest of the article in the July issue of DPA

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