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Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 12:41 am
by rising
I see images of the some the older Airbus A320s jets with the older screens in the flight deck, and was wondering, is the software routinely upgraded/updated, in a similar way all our computers/phones are? I would assume a A320 built in 2018 has had some improvements to the software over a 1997 make? Are routine enhancements to the flight systems/displays etc done, and if so can they be applied to older planes?

Obviously airplanes are a little different than a different year Toyota Camry or iPhone, but I was not sure if/how that worked out of just pure nerd curiosity.

Re: Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:07 am
by fr8mech
I’m short, yes the operations software is updated.

On older systems, it requires a shop visit. Newer units can be updated/upgraded via data loader/PMAT/laptop/PCMCIA/whatever.

Some computers, such as the FMC or the EGPWS have their databases routinely updated.

Re: Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:02 am
by zeke
rising wrote:
I see images of the some the older Airbus A320s jets with the older screens in the flight deck, and was wondering, is the software routinely upgraded/updated, in a similar way all our computers/phones are? I would assume a A320 built in 2018 has had some improvements to the software over a 1997 make? Are routine enhancements to the flight systems/displays etc done, and if so can they be applied to older planes?

Obviously airplanes are a little different than a different year Toyota Camry or iPhone, but I was not sure if/how that worked out of just pure nerd curiosity.


There is something 420 computers on an A320, they all go through updates. Even the screens some airlines choose to replace the CRTs with LCDs.

Re: Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:20 pm
by Jungleneer
They update avionics and flight controls software a lot. I would assume that a new update comes almost every year for a new platform. Older platforms can take a little bit longer, but are still updated once in a while.
Updates usually are intended to fix known issues and also to introduce new features.

Re: Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 3:02 pm
by IAHFLYR
fr8mech wrote:
Some computers, such as the FMC or the EGPWS have their databases routinely updated.


The FMC is updated every 28 days when the FAA charting cycle is updated.

Re: Do manufacturers/airlines "update" the flight computer systems

Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:17 pm
by tb727
At my employer we are preparing for the FMS2 Release 2 coming to the A320 series fleet. I think it includes some performance modifications that include better descent management that is non-linear and more efficient. I also hear that we will have "the bird" on the PFD along with the FD bars, instead of one or the other. These are rumors from ground school, we haven't gotten official training or rollout dates yet.