Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Advancing aircraft communications for greater safety

EU-funded scientists developed important optical communications technologies for within-cabin and aircraft-to-ground links. Commercialisation should significantly advance aircraft safety.
Advancing aircraft communications for greater safety
Enhancing in-flight safety and security monitoring on airplanes requires communications systems with high data transfer rates and reliable aircraft-to-ground systems links.

Antennae are probably the most important cost in installing satellite systems on aircraft. The Ka-band antenna takes advantage of a receiving/transmitting bandwidth that is not yet overcrowded. It uses high-throughput satellites (more efficient and thus eliminating the need for multiple satellites) that can dramatically lower costs. Further, Ka-band terminals to be installed onboard are smaller and more compact for better mobility.

European scientists moved results from basic research already carried out on Ka-band avionic phased-array antennas from the laboratory to aircraft. EU funding of the ‘Mid-term networking technologies in-flight and rig validation for aeronautical applications’ (Minervaa) project facilitated in-flight tests on a fully representative aircraft mock-up of optical link technology for in-cabin networks and air-to-ground links.

The Minervaa consortium considered three network components: the outside-aircraft optical link (OOL), the inside-aircraft optical passengers network (IOPN) and the Ka-band data link based on avionic phase arrays.

The OOL was designed with safety, reliability and upgradeability in mind in addition to cost. In-flight validation demonstrated the functionality of the optical communication technology and the airborne terminal for the OOL was certified.

In-flight testing of the improved in-cabin link illustrated the potential to minimise costs and enhance in-flight safety by decreasing the crew’s workload. The antenna integrating transmitter and receiver into a single system was designed and a scaled-down experimental test version produced and evaluated.

Minervaa systems based on free-space optical communications technology have the potential to significantly enhance airline safety and security. The new on-board broadband communications services will no doubt be of interest for in-flight Web browsing and video-on-demand as well.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top