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Advanced Technologies for Networking in Avionic Applications

Exploitable results

The rapid expansion of the aircraft communications, with the aim to exchange navigation and maintenance data, internet services, air transport management (ATM) services, etc. needs the development of new tools and technologies and the improvement of the existing ones to optimise the communications management and reliability. The modern researches in the field of the airborne communications are mainly investigating the use of broadband ground/air/ground communications and air/satellite/air to achieve high data rate and secure data links. In the following paragraph the main work items will be described. The general objective of the Atenaa project was to define a new concept of integrated network architecture, through the use of a mix of technologies including the present ones and introducing advanced techniques for networking, broadband satellite RF data links, outside-aircraft, point-to-point optical data links and inside-aircraft diffuse optical links. The definition of a new airborne platform with the purpose to integrate different technologies will realise a new concept of airborne communications. Such architecture will provide high flexibility due to the possibility to communicate at data-rates range with different technologies. In order to assure the real commercial diffusion of new concepts and technologies in the civilian avionic environment, a strict correlation with regulation and standardisation bodies is required. Dedicated Workpackage have therefore been inserted in the project's workplan and a significant budget has been allocated to this activity in order to assure that the Atenaa project takes attentively in account this requirement through the following steps: - assessment of existing regulations, that will be assumed as steering issues for the avionic network architecture definition and the emerging technologies application; - proposal of new standardisation issues and recommendations for the certification of new equipment, once the results of each field of investigations will be achieved. The specific topics have been defined in coordination with the advisory group members: - applicability of standard protocols for networking management and/or standardisation of new ones; - applicability of standard protocols/coding for transmission; - frequency allocation of new transmitting/receiving equipment; - safety certification (namely for optical links), etc. High data-rate communications links are required in the future civil avionic environment to ensure passenger connectivity to their company VPNs, for in-flight entertainment and for secure and efficient ATM and fleet management. Existing radio communication technologies are, to some extent, limited in bandwidth, capacity, data-rate, power transmission and antenna size. A possible solution for these problems may be the applications of present systems with Ka-band and optical links and their overall integration in an avionic networked environment. Atenaa project has given a strong contribution in enhancing the technological know-how of the European industry, strengthening its capability to play a leadership role against US competitors. The consortium composition was consistent with respect to the above statement, thanks to the involvement of industries, whose large experience in the field guaranteed the exploitation of project's results. Moreover, the assessment of the potential obtainable performances constituting the results of Atenaa and the demonstration of the new technologies applicability may trigger the realisation of a new generation of avionic communication systems and, possibly, the adaptation of existing airframes or the realisation of new one. From this point of view, the European aircraft manufacturing Industries have received a strong benefit by the availability of the related know-how within the European Community.