To compete globally in the next millennium, designers of new transportation vehicles will have to be innovative. Keen competition will reward innovative concepts that are developed and proven first. In order to improve reliability of aerospace platforms and reduce operating cots, new technologies must be exploited to produce autonomous systems, based on highly distributed, smart systems, which can be treated as line replaceable units. These technologies include photonics, which provide sensing and information transfer functions, and micro electro mechanical systems that will produce the actuation and, in some cases, may even provide a computing capability that resembles the hydro- mechanical control system used in older aircraft systems. The combination of these technologies will provide unique systems that will enable achieving the reliability and cost goals dictated by global market. In the article we review some of these issues and discuss a role of photonics in smart system for aerospace platforms.