Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - MINERVAA (Mid-term networking technologies in-flight and rig validation for aeronautical applications)

Central target of the project was to build up an airborne datalink terminal to be installed and used within an advanced network concept for the provision of new onboard broadband communications services

The project aimed at the validation on aircraft and in-flight of free space optical communications technologies and to continue the basic research on some specific technological areas in the field of Ka band antennas.

Namely, the network components MINERVAA focus on were:
- Outside aircraft optical link (OOL);
- Inside aircraft optical passengers network (IOPN);
- Ka band data link based on avionic phase arrays.

Those innovative technologies have been selected as key elements in the prospective of achieving wider bandwidth with respect to other state of art communications technologies. Moreover, as well known, optical connections ensure lower level of interference with other on board equipment. Ka band antennas are the most suited for on board installation versus available bandwidth and physical size

In order to achieve these objectives, the project has been structured into Work packages (WP): 3 technical WPs (WP2000, WP3000 and WP4000), 1 demonstration WP (WP5000), 1 dissemination WP (WP6000) and 1 management WP (WP1000). The WPs are sub-divided into tasks.

WP1000: The project management has included effective leadership, provision for monitoring processes and budget expenditure, and ensuring that all deliverable are received on time and to specification. Within this WP, internal processes such as communications to the CEC are managed.

WP2000: This WP has been devoted to design, develop and validate an outside-aircraft optical link with the following characteristics:
- higher data transmission rate (at least 100 Mbit/s, target 500 Mbit/s);
- higher range (at least 12 km, target 25 km);
- capability to operate in-flight and provide broadband connections between aircraft and / or high altitude platform and / or satellites.

For this technology to be practically viable for aircraft installation, the following constraints have been taken in account:
- high safety (including eye-safety in this specific case);
- high availability and reliability (i.e. capability to provide stable and continuous performance);
- limited installation impact (low mass, aerodynamical drag, power consumption, etc.);
- low life cycle costs, easy upgradeability, limited maintenance.

WP3000: This WP has been based on the creation of an innovative wireless optical in-cabin link to serve health monitoring application as well as safety and security in cabin systems. Further research on wireless optical modulation schemes for further evolvement of the wireless optical physical layer has been carried out. The health monitoring systems along with the safety and security system application have shown the possibility of increasing in-flight safety by minimising cost and crew workload.

WP4000: An integrated Rx/Tx Ka-band phased array antenna has been designed and a 1/4 scale test bed realised and measured. Test-bed EIRP is comprised between 18.7 +/- 0.5 dBW and 19.8 +/- 0.5 dBW, test-bed gain is larger than 18 dBi, and steering capability is more than +/- 36 degrees at -3 dB level.

WP5000: The creation of the flight certification documentation for the airborne terminal of the outer optical link was carried out with success. Furthermore, the in-flight-validation was executed and a total of three measurement flights were carried out. It was possible to show the principle functionality of the demanding free-space optical communication technology.

WP6000: This WP has been devoted to the exploitation and dissemination of the generated knowledge from the MINERVAA project, establishing workshops and presenting the results at international conference, printing handouts and leaflets.

The project management has included effective leadership, provision for monitoring processes and budget expenditure, and it has ensured that all deliverable have been received on time and to specification. The management structure has also dealt with internal processes such as communications to the European Commission.

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