Many airborne functions in commercial or business airplanes are controlled by federated or integrated modular avionics systems.
Their embedded computers are responsible for vital functions such as flight and engine control, navigation, weather systems or collision avoidance. They are part of the in-flight communication, supervision, security, cabin and passenger information systems. The computers are increasingly connected by safe Ethernet networks like AFDX (ARINC-664). Compliance with at least parts of the EN 9100 is often mandatory.
Other applications include airport infrastructure systems ranging from air traffic management and radar to passenger information and security, or test systems for aircraft production.
As many of the airborne applications are safety-relevant, computer components have to be developed according to DO-254 and DO-178B and have to conform to safety levels DAL-E up to DAL-B or DAL-A. Critical parts have to prove fitness for flight. The computer architecture is fault-tolerant based on redundancy and availability architecture and built-in test equipment (BITE). Safe avionics computers are mostly realized as custom developments. Certifiable platforms based on COTS solutions are rare.
In addition, environments are harsh, and volume and weight are a challenge, so that computers must be robust, compact and lightweight. Conductive cooling is the preferred method to cope with extreme temperatures and designs must be SEU resistant to avoid computing errors caused by cosmic radiation.
MEN is certified to EN/AS 9100.