Did You Know that Airbus A320 Memory Size is 2,500 Times Smaller than Your Smartphone?

Written by BAA Training

On 2020-01-21
Did You Know that Airbus A320 Memory Size is 2,500 Times Smaller than Your Smartphone?

In today’s aircraft, all systems are integrated under Flight Management System (FMS). It is a technical brain that navigates modern airplanes safely through the skies. In many ways, it’s like the GPS for a car with waypoints programmed in between the initial point and the destination. FMS allows the airplane to hook up that routing with the autopilot and maintain the heading and attitude. It’s amazingly accurate.

FMS database is binary, and its capacity is reported in “words”, one “word” being equal to 2 bytes. Although FMS is the critical component of the entire auto-flight system since it is responsible for the performance, navigation, and integration of all components of the auto-flight system, its memory size is extremely small. Little do people know, that back in the day FMS was 192 kilowords (around 400 kilobytes). It is about 2,500 times smaller than RAM (Random Access Memory) of a modern smartphone!

To top it off, to this day most of the data is transferred to an aircraft with a floppy disk. Although recently portable data loaders (PDL) with USB have started to appear in the market, transferring data via a portable floppy drive to a floppy disk and then from the floppy to the aircraft via portable data loader is still the most common and universally accepted way. Even big airlines, for example, the biggest airline in Lithuania, Avion Express, is using this method.
In its evolution, FMS has had various sizes and capabilities. It can be as small as 400kb for earlier FMS software and eventually increasing up to 20 Mb for the most recent FMS upgrades. However, with the evolution of air navigation and complexity of airspace, this capacity milestone should soon be passed.

You May Also Like…

We use cookies and other similar technologies to help provide our Services, to advertise to you and to analyse how you use our Services and whether advertisements are being viewed. We also allow third parties to use tracking technologies for similar purposes. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. To learn more, Read More.

Necessary Cookies

Always enabled

These cookies are necessary for our website to function properly and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms or where they’re essential to provide you with a service you have requested. You cannot opt-out of these cookies. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but if you do, some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
Performance Cookies
These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site, which helps us optimize your experience. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not be able to use your data in this way.
Targeting Cookies
These cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.
Save & Accept