When compared to the electronic systems in industries like commercial and industrial equipment, today’s avionics systems face several unique challenges. In addition to operating in rugged environments for long periods of time, they must also satisfy rigorous safety and reliability standards. Most importantly, unlike other industries, they must meet these standards while using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) semiconductor devices (logic, memory, etc.) and electronic assemblies that have been designed and qualified for other applications with less rigorous requirements.
Global avionics continues to experience rapid growth. Being first to market with new, consistently reliable technology is key to staying ahead of the competition. Using non-destructive methods, like Digital Image Correlation (DIC), in avionic design and root cause analysis provides a fast, accurate way to help characterize material properties and measure displacements and deformation.
Avionics systems are complex and often interdependent, as demonstrated in an aircraft cockpit that houses control, monitoring, communication, navigation, weather and anti-collision systems. These highly regulated electronics are among the most expensive and standardized products available—considerable investments that are expected to perform for up to 30 years, making the determination of product lifetime reliability a top priority.
Modern electronics have continued in the pattern of Moore’s Law which has decreased transistor size and increased performance. This necessitates development of faster, smaller ICs with greatly reduced power dissipation. However, the increased number of transistors in smaller spaces causes higher power density which can lead to higher failure rates, shorter device lifetimes and unanticipated early device wearout.