The integrated modular avionics concept (IMA) was developed by Boeing for its B777. Open IMA is an improved version developed by Airbus starting from A380. Which are the differences? For example, I got that the network is optical fiber for IMA and Ethernet/Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) for Open Ima: why?

I know that the question may be too broad and not very easy, so I would welcome even some links to deepen the argument.

Moreover I would like to understand: where is it used IMA nowadays? Only in B777, or even in B787 and new generation B747 and so on? Idem regarding Open IMA: only A380 or even in the A329 Neo?

If Boeing and Airbus have these new systems, what do you have in all other companies? Embraer, Eurocopter, Tupolev etc.


1 Answer 1


The primary difference is that the B777 is the AIMS (airplane information management system). It is a Honeywell developed system where all the software on the systems is controlled by Honeywell (closed system). The biggest downside to the closed system is maintenance and support.

The A380 system is a semi-open IMA system. It has a single supplier hardware cabinet with processor slices and an common operating system. Different suppliers can develop their applications to run on the platform.

Most newer aircraft designs use the IMA architecture as it reduces the number of LRUs and saves weight. Boeing and Airbus are going to more open systems. B787 and B777X are open as is the A350, mainly for competition reasons. Smaller aircraft (Bombardier, Embraer) are typically closed as they tend to have single source avionics (Rockwell Collins, Honeywell).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So, it's like Apple and IBM? :) $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Oct 4, 2016 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ Is this AIMS or IMA a controlling avionic system, like the fly-by-wire? $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2019 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @AirCraftLover I'm not sure what you mean by controlling. The IMA hosts applications that control things - displays, hydraulics, environmental controls, etc. It's generally not used for the primary flight control system (FCS) due to criticality and speed needs. It does include the Flight Management Application which does interface with the FCS. The difference is instead of having all the suppliers show up with their own computers with software pre-loaded, there's an IMA server and the suppliers just bring software to load. It doesn't host everything, but it makes a difference. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Feb 21, 2019 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1: Not quite, you can still boot Linux on a Mac. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Oct 7, 2019 at 4:20

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