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Challenges in implementing a wireless avionics network

Peter Reji Ramanatt (Department of Aerospace Engineering, International Institute of Aerospace Engineering and Management (IIAEM), Jain University, Bangalore, India)
K. Natarajan (Department of Aerospace Engineering, International Institute of Aerospace Engineering and Management (IIAEM), Jain University, Bangalore, India)
K.R. Shobha (Department of Telecommunication Engineering, M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 12 February 2020

Issue publication date: 19 March 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Aircraft manufacturers for a long time have been looking to reduce the weight of on board equipment to enhance performance both from commercial aspect and from military aspect. The existing wired technology, using cables to connect different on board line replaceable unit apart from increasing the weight also increases the complexity related to electromagnetic interference, installation and maintenance. With continuous technology upgradation in the wireless domain, aviation industry is in the process of using wireless technology for intra-aircraft communication. Wireless technology can meet most of the challenges of modern avionics systems and significantly reduce the weight. This paper aims to look at various aspects of implementing a wireless network including issues related to wired network, aircraft channel, interference issues, suitable wireless protocols for aircraft applications and security aspects.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper has relied on literature study on wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC) and the research work carried out in specific areas related to channel inside an aircraft, interference issues of wireless systems with onboard and external systems operating in the same band and security issues related to wireless network and security requirements of implementing an avionics wireless network (AWN). To identify suitable wireless protocol for AWN literature review and simulation to compare different protocols was carried out.

Findings

A single wireless protocol may not be suitable for all aircraft systems, and therefore, there may be a requirement to use multiple technologies. Mutual interference is not expected between WAIC systems with on board and external systems operating in the same band. The channel inside an aircraft is expected to be Rician (LOS) or Rayleigh (NLOS). However, additional measurements may have to be undertaken to have a generalized channel model. Security aspects in an AWN are critical and needs to be analyzed in detail prior to any wireless deployment.

Practical implications

Implementation of wireless technology can pave the way for usage of wireless technology for future generation avionics. With International Telecommunication Union allotting dedicated band for WAIC operations, considerable amount of research has been initiated in this field. It is believed that in the coming 2-3 years, the designers will be ready to replace the existing data wires with wireless transceivers. With radio technical commission for aeronautics and EURACAE involved in development of minimum operations performance standards for WAIC systems use of wireless for intra communication is bound to happen. Therefore, it is necessary to look at different issues for integrating wireless in the avionics domain.

Originality/value

The existing studies have been carried out in individual domains of using wireless in avionics. Separate studies and research work has been carried out for identifying wireless protocols, aircraft channel models, interference issues and security aspects. The paper has attempted to look at all these aspects together including certification.

Keywords

Citation

Ramanatt, P.R., Natarajan, K. and Shobha, K.R. (2018), "Challenges in implementing a wireless avionics network", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 92 No. 3, pp. 482-494. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-07-2019-0144

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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