Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

AIRWISE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 255776
Funded under: FP7-JTI

Wireless networks reduce aircraft cabling

EU-funded scientists developed modules for a wireless sensor network (WSN) that can meet airborne certification requirements. The technology promises a significant decrease in cabling, weight, fuel consumption and emissions.
Wireless networks reduce aircraft cabling
Wired sensors are currently used in the field of aeronautics for condition monitoring of various aircraft structures. WSNs employing smart sensors with radio interfaces offer exciting potential for reduced airplane sensor wiring that reduces costs and lowers weight. In addition, they can be deployed without a re-design of the data wiring layout.

The Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique SA (CSEM) extended the capabilities of its low-power wireless transmission module ZorgWave to be airborne-compliant with the EU-funded project 'Hardware development of wireless sensor network nodes for operation in airborne environment' (AIRWISE). The module is based on Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.15.4-compliant radio technology and operates in the license-free 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band. IEEE 802.15.4 is the first international standard devoted to WSNs. The full-featured protocol stack of the ZorgWave seamlessly provides network creation and maintenance with secure and fully transparent data communication.

To ensure compliance with aircraft usage regulations, scientists evaluated performance in terms of unintended emissions and vibrations, extended temperature ranges and battery operation. As a result of successful testing, the original ZorgWave circuits and schematics were retained. Only mechanical design and connectivity were modified for required specifications. Based on current consumption, the module was capable of battery operation for 18 months. In parallel, a study of energy-harvesting options provided future directions for autonomous wireless sensor nodes. The TinyOS open-source, Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD)-licensed operating system designed for low-power wireless devices was ported to the module and five prototypes delivered.

AIRWISE produced a WSN demonstrator ready for certification that can significantly reduce the weight of aircraft through the elimination of cables. Weight reductions translate to decreases in fuel consumption and associated emissions. In addition, maintenance costs are reduced given that replacing a sensor node is more straightforward than checking complicated wiring and replacing faulty cables. The technology is thus poised for commercialisation and market uptake with important impact on competitiveness of the EU aeronautics industry and on the environment.

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