Air data computer

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Air Data Computer

An air data computer (ADC) is an essential avionics component found in modern glass cockpits. This computer, rather than individual instruments, can determine the calibrated airspeed, Mach number, altitude, and altitude trend data from an aircraft's pitot-static system. [1][2] In some very high speed aircraft such as the Space Shuttle, equivalent airspeed is calculated instead of calibrated airspeed.

The first air data computer patented in the US was developed by John H. Andresen in February, 1971.[3]

Air data computers usually also have an input of total air temperature. This enables computation of static air temperature and true airspeed.

In Airbus aircraft the air data computer is combined with altitude, heading and navigation sources in a single unit known as the Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU). Because of the high failures and directives, it has now been replaced by Global Navigation Air Data Inertial Reference System (GNADIRS).

Apart from commercial ADCs implementation, there are available do-it-yourself, and Open implementations.[4]


  1. ^ Air Data Computer, Avionics News, Kim Wiolland, 2015-01
  2. ^ What Is an Air Data Computer?,, Retrieved 2015-06-25
  3. ^ "United States Patent 3,742,325 – Plural Input Mode Servo Driven Air Data Computer". USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database. United States Patent and Trademark Office. June 26, 1973.
  4. ^ Asgard: the Open Source Air Data Computer, HACKADAY, Tom Nardi, 2018-01

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