6System Integration

6.1 Introduction

The term ‘system integration’ is understood to mean different things by different people and by many different organisations. This chapter will examine some aspects of system integration and offer the reader some of the potential down sides to encourage a level of caution and scrutiny of the design to ensure safe solutions. This is discussed further in Chapter 11.

Integration arises because engineers want to pursue solutions that are efficient in operation and in their use of equipment. To achieve this latter desire, engineers often seek to incorporate many functions into single devices such as hardware components, line replaceable items (LRIs) or software packages. The design drivers for this are to do with cost, weight, installation volume in the aircraft, reliability, and in some cases technological challenge. In addition to this most computing devices encourage multi‐tasking solutions, as illustrated by personal computers.

Whilst the results have many tangible benefits, there are some drawbacks. Some integrated solutions appear on the surface to be simple and to offer a simple man–machine interface, rather like the Apple iPod. This is achieved by quite high levels of sophistication and complexity within the device. In a complex aircraft system encompassing all of the avionic and aircraft systems the result is hugely complex with interactions of hardware, software, data, and functions occurring throughout the system.

Perhaps the easiest ...

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