I'm reading this paper about IMA (Integrated Modular Avionics) and I don't get the splitting of the development and integration procedure. In page 4 it says:

Airbus has to modify the conventional development processes and responsibilities. The IMA system development and integration procedure is split between

  • the Avionic Module Supplier
  • the Aircraft System Manufacturer
  • Airbus

Who is the Aircraft System Manufacturer? Which is its function?

My doubt is principally about this paragraph that is few lines later:

The open IMA concept puts the assembler into the position of the IMA system integrator. The development responsibility for the single systems and their functions remains at the system manufacturers. The avionic module supplier provides “empty” IMA modules to both, the system manufacturers and to assembler. The system manufacturer applies the CPIOM for the local function implementation and qualification. The assembler, in turn integrates the own empty CPIOM with the ADCN on the aircraft in order to establish the basic computing resource for different system functions.

  • $\begingroup$ the company that builds the IMA hardware? building IMA hardware? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jul 23, 2015 at 10:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You might want to go back and double-check if the paper provides a specific definition for Aircraft System Manufacturer, but otherwise it likely referring to Airbus's suppliers who are responsible for providing any number of aircraft subsystems that Airbus then combines into the final product. The use of such suppliers is very widespread in any manufacturing industry due to the mind-boggling number of components and systems that go into a final product - it would be counterproductive for the final assembler to manufacture all of them internally. $\endgroup$
    – habu
    Jul 23, 2015 at 10:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not an expert in this area, but I think that the jist of it is that a particular component like say, a Flight Management System, is produced and manufactured by a third party (Honeywell, Universal Avionics, Collins, etc.) and not by the actual aircraft manufacturer. For the IMA, it sounds like they are using "generic" hardware which may be used in various industries, which are then programmed by the avionics supplier for their aviation specific functions and then supplied to Airbus. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It sounds like the IMA module is a standardized rack into which Avionic Modules are mounted. Honeywell, Collins, etc. make modules that perform a specific set of functions and put them in a box that will fit into the IMA rack. It's then up to the aircraft manufacturer to select a set of modules and ensure that their inputs are supplied and outputs are handled by other standardized modules or by custom systems within a particular aircraft. The aircraft mfg. will build 1 or more IMA rack spaces into the fuselage as needed to hold the modules for that craft. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


The Aircraft System Manufacturer is the company developing the system that is being implemented on IMA hardware (supplied by the Avionic Module Supplier). They will likely develop software to load onto the IMA hardware to perform certain functions.

For example: Airbus would like to implement a Thrust Reverser Control System for their new airplane. The system would take in some parameters gathered from various sensors within the aircraft, perform the necessary logic and/or calculations, and then provide the necessary control commands to the thrust reversers.

Now Airbus doesn't want to develop this specific system, so they contract it out to another company ACME Avionics. They provide ACME with the System Requirements Data, which describes how the system must operate, what inputs it will use, the Design Assurance Level of the system, and the IMA modules the system must use to implement the requirements.

  • $\begingroup$ So we have Airbus that build the plane, the Avionic Module Supplier who supplies only the hardware and the Aircraft System Manufacturer who supplies the software? $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2017 at 8:17

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