Since any aircraft crash may lead to mass casualty incidents, safety is the most important. This is why it is essential to continue to inspect and repair aircrafts before take-off and after landing. Then, who is inspecting aircrafts during operation?
The simple answer is the aircraft diagnostic system, which we will be introducing today. Aircrafts have various self-diagnostic systems designed to help them fly safely by informing them whether they are following the route correctly or if there are any warning signs coming from the engine. Let’s take a look at the diagnostic systems that take care of aircraft safety!
Flight Management System (FMS), the Aircraft’s Brain
The first diagnostic system that helps aircrafts fly safely is the Flight Management System (FMS). It is no exaggeration to say that FMS is an aircraft’s brain! It contains all the data required for a flight, such as an aircraft’s flight plan, waypoints connecting flight routes, airport names, locations, frequencies, and base stations.
It also calculates and combines massive amounts of data and provides information on the optimal flight to the pilot. If you enter your starting point and destination, it tells you the shortest route like GPS for cars. Also, if you cannot fly along the original route due to bad weather, it quickly finds you a detour. If you enter the amount of fuel and flight plan before departing, it also tells you the most cost-effective flight route that consumes the least amount of fuel.
Not only does the FMS contain all of the available data about a flight, but it also analyzes the data and informs pilots of the most appropriate information in terms of time and cost! Don’t you think that’s enough to call the FMS an aircraft’s brain?
Inertial Reference System (IRS), a Compass in the Air
The second diagnostic system that helps aircrafts fly safely is the Inertial Reference System (IRS). This is a system in the aircraft that serves as a compass, calculating the aircraft’s location, route, and speed as well as wind speed and direction, and helping pilots not to get lost in the air. Data obtained from this system is transmitted automatically to an aircraft’s “brain,” or FMS, which helps pilots create a more precise flight plan!
The IRS, which helps aircrafts fly with its location information, is an upgraded version of the Inertial Navigation System (INS), which has been used since the 20th century. INS is an automatic navigation system that calculates and finds the destination on its own, analyzing an aircraft’s rotation, position, and movement.
While the INS boasts the advantages that it can calculate fast and keep the system stable, its disadvantage is that its margin of error increases as the flight time increases. Due to this error of INS, a Korean Air airplane entered the Soviet Union’s airspace and was shot down in 1983. Since then, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was made public!
Currently, aircrafts are flown by a combination of IRS, whose accuracy has been upgraded with better technology, and GPS. IRS guarantees a safe flight by positioning aircrafts more precisely.
Central Maintenance System (CMS), Playing the Role of an Aircraft Mechanic
If you look at the cockpit, you can see a control panel with various buttons along with the clear sky in front. Inside the control panel, various wires are connected to the aircraft’s body. Inside the panel lies the Central Maintenance System (CMS), which plays a role of the aircraft’s doctor. The CMS monitors many systems in an aircraft and diagnoses whether there are any problems in their operation.
The inclusion of CMS, which self-diagnoses problems, inside aircrafts reduces the maintenance workload for a mechanic! With the combination of CMS’s monitoring data and the pilot’s data, it is possible to find where an aircraft requires maintenance and how an aircraft is maintained. As CMS reduces the time and effort required for a mechanic and helps to deal with system failures quickly, wouldn’t you think it’s safe to call it the aircraft’s doctor?
Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), Helping to Communicate with the Ground
The last system that helps aircrafts fly safely is Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS).
ACARS is a system that connects communications between an aircraft and the ground. It can communicate with short messages, show transmitted information on a screen, or print it so that the pilot can see it.
ACARS allows aircrafts to transmit its location, departure and arrival times, and technical information on the engine to the ground, and if necessary, allows the flight crew to receive information on the weather, flight plan, gate number, and more from the ground. More importantly, it can send and receive aircraft failures!
What if a problem is detected in aircraft’s body, engine, or another part during flight and you need to make an emergency landing? To allow the ground to prepare such a landing, ACARS sends failure information to the ground in advance. Since the ground receives such information in advance, it can repair the aircraft as soon as the aircraft lands.
Today, we have looked at the various diagnostic systems for safe flights: Flight Management System (FMS), Inertial Reference System (IRS), Central Maintenance System (CMS), Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) 😊.
It is amazing that aircrafts require help from so many systems from when they take off to when they land safely. We can board aircrafts without worries thanks to these smart systems.