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Greg Wolcott ENGR 1202- Writing Assignment- Proposal Due 2/9/2017 Page 1 of 1

Airplane Electrical Systems

I am interested in the electrical systems designed, and implemented into airplanes and rockets. In
specific I am particularly interested in the electrical systems that communicate with the plane
when there is an error in one of the systems.

I have always found it fascinating how an electrical system can identify a problem and notify the
user of the error. The technology behind communicating errors to the pilots has saved many
lives. It is technology that can allow the pilot to make adjustments to the flight, or decisions
during the flight that can keep the passengers safe. I am curious about how many different
electrical systems there are that are implemented into an airplane. I understand that there is an
abundance of technology in an airplane, I am just curious to find out about how it all works

I am going to consider how many different electrical systems there are inside a 747- airplane. I
have a lot of questions that I would like to see answer throughout this inquiry. One question I
have at hand is are there electrical systems designed for planes whose sole purpose is to find and
identify problems. Following up on that question I would like to find out if there arent, does
every electrical system identify its own problems. I am also curious as to whether electrical
systems can identify problems in other electrical system through a connection. In the design
process, I would like to know if the electrical engineers that design certain systems of the plane,
work together with electrical engineers that design other systems on the plane to make sure that
the electrical designs work together on the plane.

This is a topic that I am very passionate about, and will enjoy inquiring about. Airplanes come in
many different shapes and sizes, and I would like to learn more about what goes on, on the inside
of the airplanes to make the results occur that we see every single day.

Figure 1: Electrical/Communication systems located in a 747 cockpit

The communication systems that are used in aircrafts are referred to as avionics, which comes
from a combination of the words aviation electronics. On airplanes, avionics are used for many
different reasons to ensure that the flight is a smooth and stress free as it can possibly be. These
avionics systems that are used in planes are extremely reliable. They must be reliable since a
failure in them could result in a devastating accident that could potentially take the lives of
innocent passengers. The avionic systems are one of the most important components of the
airplane, these systems keep the pilot informed throughout the entire flight, so he/she can do
his/her job of flying the plane as smoothly as possible. Avionic systems that are used in aircrafts
are communication systems, navigation, flight control, collision avoidance, black boxes, and
weather systems.

The communications system of avionics on an airplane is very important. This system, in

specific, connects the pilot to the control room on the ground, as well as the pilot to the rest of
the passengers. This communication is very important, because if there is a problem, or a time
where the passengers need to do something in specific, it can be completed. For instance, when a
plane is taking off or landing, they need the passengers to take their seat, and turn off their
electronic devices. With the communications systems located in the plane, the pilot can
communicate this message to the passengers so that they arent thrown down and injured by
standing up during takeoff, or cause an electrical issue by using their electronic devices during
takeoff. Another example would be if there is a problem which causes the plane to force an
immediate landing. The pilot can communicate with the passengers that there is a problem, and
that they need to put on their oxygen masks and seatbelts. This communication can help save
lives. It is also vital that the pilot can communicate with the ground or other airplanes. When the
pilot is about to land or takeoff, or is even in flight, the control system on the ground can
communicate with the pilot to let him/her know about a potential problem or threat that may be
out of the pilots view.

Figure 2: Path of communication systems between Ground control, Satellite, and Airplane

Navigation avionic systems in airplanes are vitally important as well. The navigation system
communicates with satellites, as well as systems that are located on the ground. These systems
determine the position that the plane is in, as well as the direction that the plane is headed. The
navigations system on the plane has a monitor that informs the pilot automatically of the position
and direction of the plane. This navigation system helps the pilot ensure that the plane is headed
the correct way to reach its desired designation, as well as, allows the pilot to determine the
length of the flight left. This navigation system allows the pilot to proceed with the quickest
route, which helps the airplane to not waste any gas and allows the plane and its passengers to
get to its destination as quickly and as safely as possible.

The aircraft flight-control system (also referred to as autopilot) is important in the flight process.
Auto-pilot is used in commercial aircrafts to control altitude and increase the safety of the flights.
Since the system is flying the plane by itself, it is the most critically tested system. If this system
fails, then the pilot would have to be able to fully recover the plane by himself, which could be a
dire task.

Collision-avoidance systems are in place to prevent an absolute catastrophe from occurring

during the flight. The name explains what it does, it is a system that is used to prevent airplanes
from colliding. This system can detect airplanes that are located a close distance away to
communicate to the pilot so that the pilot can divert the path to avoid the other plane, or
communicate with the other plane to avoid a collision.

Black Boxes are airplane avionic systems who are referred to as a flight recorder. In 747 planes,
the black box is in the cockpit to record data. The data that the black box can record includes
audio as well as other flight information. These black boxes are used when a plane crashes to
help determine what the cause of the crash was. The ironic part about these black boxes is that
they arent black (as you can see below).

Figure 3: Black Box that is used on 747 airplanes.

Weather systems are very important for aircrafts that are making their flight at night. The system
contains detectors that can detect heavy rainfall systems, as well as lightning. Detecting these
systems are vitally important because it can avoid running into severe turbulence. If the pilot can
see the detected weather system, he/she can divert away from the weather system and maintain a
smooth flight, rather than a rough, turbulence filled flight that could result in a potential crash.

As one can see above, there are many different communication systems that are used in planes to
ensure that the plane arrives at its destination in a smooth and timely fashion. All the avionic
communication systems above allow the pilots to keep themselves as well as all the passengers
safe on their journey to their next destination. Seeing tragedy occur do to plane crashes is
something that is devastating. Learning more about how electrical systems work in planes has
intrigued me even more on all the different electrical flight aspects keep people safe. This is a
field I would love to work in. Knowing that I could design and implement systems that allow
people to travel from one destination to another safely is a dream of mine.


[1] "What are Avionics?" March 28, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2017. http://www.msp-
[2] Prats, Angeles. Introduction to Avionics. PDF. Global Supply Chain and Aeronautical
Industrial Operations, 2012.