The Ever-Changing World of Technology & How it Impacts Avionics

Make Way for LCDs“Make Way for LCDs”
Examining the CRT Replacement Path
Story by Dale Smith

“Technology is a fickle temptress. It shows you something radically new and so cool you can’t believe it. Then, just when you make a commitment to whatever today’s must have gizmo is, it pulls the rug out from under you and – wham -yesterday’s next big thing is tomorrow’s can’t-give-it-away.

Just look at the first cathode ray tubes for EFIS (electronic flight instrument system) and EICAS (engine indication and crew alerting system) displays. Thirty years ago, and yes it has been 30 years since they were introduced, CRTs were all the rage. Whether you were flying a Citation 550 or a 757, if it didn’t have glass, nobody wanted it.

It’s Deja-vu All Over Again

Today, liquid crystal displays are doing to CRTs what CRTs did to mechanical instruments in the early 1980s. Thanks to a combination of diminishing reliability and lack of upgrade capabilities, CRTs are, or will soon become, a significant cause of concern for operators that still have them in their aircraft. The reason is quite simple: CRT technology is obsolete, at least as far as general and commercial aircraft are concerned.

When was the last time you saw a new business aircraft with a CRT EFIS? Or for that matter, when was the last time you went to the electronics store and bought a new television or computer with a CRT in it? It’s been a long, long time. …”

Read Full Article >> http://www.sea-avionics.com/documents/Make-Way-for-LCDs.pdf
SOURCE: Smith, Dale. “Make Way for LCDs” Avionics News. Jan. 2014: 34-37.

Make Way for LCDs” in the January edition of Avionics News is a good article on the ever-changing world of technology and how it impacts the aviation industry. 

Sometimes aircraft owners and operators do not want to hear about upgrades and other options. However, for many avionics companies it is not always about the upsell or trying to make more profit by selling a more current product. Southeast Aerospace receives many inquiries every day from around the world relating to legacy products that may be nearing their end or have significant support issues ahead. Interestingly enough, some people do not want to accept that a part (such as in this case an CRT EFIS indicator) is no longer available or not supported by the factory any longer. As the article clearly indicates, some of this technology is 30 years old. So, I ask this question – would you go into an electronics store and be shocked if they couldn’t sell you or repair your 8 track player?

The article also does a good job of covering the counterpoint which is that sometimes upgrading from legacy equipment is expensive. Sometimes the upgrade paths may seriously conflict with value of the aircraft and the return on investment discussion. That is, it may not seem practical to put a new $100,000 glass cockpit into a 20 or 30 year old aircraft. You may never recoup the cost of that upgrade if/when you go to sell the aircraft. So, there are many considerations and factors related to the upgrade/retrofit discussion to consider.

In any case, this article is a good reminder that sometimes you have to ‘cut your losses’, ‘bite the bullet’ and/or be proactive when it comes to critical components such as flight displays. Furthermore, SEA often reminds customers that while spending $15,000 to repair your CRT EFIS indicator might seem more palatable than a $50,000 replacement/upgrade, you should always keep in mind what you are sinking your money into when you choose the less expensive option – older technology in the consumer world that has most likely disappeared.

So, the next time someone tries to sell you an upgrade, make sure they give you cold hard facts why:
–          Costs now vs. costs later
–          Support longevity
–          Ease of upgrade
–          Downtime


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s