FLIGHT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FMS: Definition, Features and Benefits

FLIGHT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FMS
Photo Credit: AviBuy

Traveling by air since its invention has been one of the most exciting and breathtaking ways to travel. Some often think of it as the most convenient and safest way to travel, especially from one country to another. This is often true, especially when you consider the other options available. However, the amount of effort that goes into making this method of travel safe is quite immense and requires a lot of effort. Engineers and navigators are usually among the people who work on these projects.  A flight management system (FMS) serves to eradicate the need for more manual labor.

Let’s walk through what the FMS is all about and see how it helps us.

What Does a Flight Management System Do?

What is a flight management system (FMS), or what does a flight management system do? This is a question that is probably lingering in your mind. A flight management system (FMS) is no doubt a fundamental component of a contemporary airliner’s avionics. An FMS is a specialized electronic (computer) system that automates a large number of in-flight tasks, reducing the workload on the flight crew to the point that modern civilian aircraft do not carry flight engineers or navigators. 

The primary function of the FMS is in-flight management of the flight plan. Using various sensors (such as GPS and INS, often protected by radio navigation) to see the aircraft’s position, the FMS can guide the aircraft along the flight plan. From the cockpit, the FMS is generally controlled through an impression Display Unit (CDU) which includes a tiny low screen and a keyboard or touchscreen.

The FMS transmits or forwards the flight plan for a display to the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS), Navigation Display (ND), or Multifunction Display (MFD). The FMS is often summarized as being a dual system consisting of the Flight Management Computer (FMC), CDU, and a cross-talk bus.

When Was the Flight Management System Invented?

In 1978, the first flight management system (FMS) was put into service by Honeywell. The first FMS was put into use in 1982, 4 years after the process initially started.
The Boeing 767 was the first plane to have the modern FMS, but there were earlier navigation computers. Now, systems the same as FMS exist on aircraft that are as small as the Cessna 182. In its evolution, an FMS has had many different sizes, capabilities, and controls. However, certain characteristics are common to all or any FMSs.

Currently, all aircraft companies are installing a Honeywell flight management system into their aircraft.

What Is the Difference Between FMC and FMS?

A flight management system is a multi-functional system, usually in an aircraft, that helps in the navigation, operations, and performance of an aircraft. This system is designed to provide virtual information and ensure that aircraft operations are seamless. It creates operational harmony from the pre-engine start to take-off to landing and eventually engine shutdown.

However, the flight management computer (FMC) is a computer system that is used to pre-program routes for an aircraft. With the help of navigation aids in the FMS flight management system, it uses a large database to keep track of where the plane is. In other words, the FMC is a component of the flight management system, FMS.

Who Makes Flight Management Systems?

Generally, flight management systems are designed by software engineers with good programming skills usually under a company that specializes in avionics. They charge them with

  • Development of complex avionics systems applications, especially flight management systems.
  • Software application development for the FMS.
  • Control the relationship between the cost of making the FMS and the price.

Some of the companies that make flight management systems are the following:

  • Honeywell International
  • SelectTech Geospatial
  • Rocky Mountain aircraft services
  • Collins Aerospace
  • Latitude Technologies Corporation.
  • Black Swift Technologies
  • Archangel Systems, Inc.
  • Universal Avionics Systems Corp.
  • Genesys Aerosystems
  • Custom Control Concepts

What Are the Advantages of Flight Management System?

It is quite evident that the flight management system, like every other advancement in technology, has been of great importance to man. The calculations and estimations in the aviation industry are very crucial and leave no room for error. This has fostered the need for FMS. Some of the advantages include;

  • It makes the pilots’ jobs easier and gives them more time to analyze: This is quite obvious due to the reduction in the workload for crew members. It makes the job on the aircraft easier. Also, pilots get enough time to analyze and come up with better decisions.
  • Efficiency profiles are more accurate: FMS makes most of the flight’s operations more accurate because it cuts down on mistakes that people make.
  • It improves navigation accuracy: The flight management system provides more accurate navigations by integration and cross-referencing with multiple sources.
  • It improves situational awareness: The flight management system helps to improve the general situational awareness of pilots. It is quite easy to miss minor details, however, the FMS helps to eradicate that and gives the pilot more information.

What Is an Automatic Flight Control System?

The automatic flight control system (AFCS) is a system that provides a combination of autopilot and flight director systems. The automatic flight control system is made up of two interlinked flight control computers (Flight control computer 1 and flight control computer 2) or (FCC1 and FCC2). It also has a two-axis autopilot, two yaw dampers, automatic elevator trim control, and assorted servos and actuators.

The flight crew, usually instructed by the flight director, is instructed to follow cues on the primary flight displays (PFDs). Mode selections from the navigation systems, flight control panel, and sensor information from the air data system, attitude and heading reference system, radio altimeter, and surface position sensors are received by the flight control computer.

The flight control system (FCC) gives guidance commands to the autopilot, which gives control signals to drive the aileron and elevator servos as well as the stabilizer trim. Steering commands are provided by the flight director with the use of a command bar on the attitude director indicator portion of the primary flight displays, or PFDs.  These commands provide visual guidance for the pilot to manually steer the aircraft as defined by the selected modes of operation.

Conclusion 

The use of flight management systems has a pivotal role in the world of aircraft travel. The flight management systems have not only reduced workload but also reduced the chances of error. In an ever-changing world where advancements in technology are the order of the day, it is only right that the aviation sector makes that advancement.

Flight Management System FAQs

.

What are companies that make flight management systems?

  • SelectTech Geospatial
  • Rocky Mountain aircraft services
  • Collins Aerospace
  • Latitude Technologies Corporation.
  • Black Swift Technologies
  • Archangel Systems, Inc.

What is flight management computer (FMC)?

Flight management computer (FMC) is a computer system that is used to pre-program routes for an aircraft.

Who Makes Flight Management Systems?

Generally, flight management systems are designed by software engineers with good programming skills usually under a company that specializes in avionics. They charge them with

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