Just from the standpoint of an observer, and not anything near a flight professional, I was wondering what the trends were regarding the use of computer networks in modern airliners.
I suspect -- but don't know -- that the latest generation of commercial aircraft are filled to the brim with computerized components, and that therefore there is some kind of operating system that coordinates between the various equipment involved. For example, a flight computer would need to know precisely what the state of the aerilons is at every moment, and presumably there is some kind of feedback mediated by some kind of operating system.
There is a second element to this question, and that relates analogously to the idea of a "God's eye" view of resource coordination, as evidenced in the U.S. military. The latest and greatest in USAF operations is the network-centralization of various computerized "resources" (aircraft, etc.) through the use of AWACS aircraft and similar equipment. In fact, the F-22 is famously network-centric, as I recall, adding greatly to its superiority over previous generations of aircraft. Thus, the issue to me is whether commercial airliners have, or will develop, a similar networking capability with outside coordinators (controllers, perhaps, or even regional tracking facilities) that will allow such things as closer separation distances, faster speeds at lower altitudes, etc.
This is a question asked purely without agenda or indeed much knowledge in this field, and any insightful comments or speculation would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
[Edited 2005-12-24 11:00:33]