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Enabling Wireless Avionics Intra-CommunicationsThe Electromagnetics and Sensors Branch of NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) is investigating the potential of an all-wireless aircraft as part of the ECON (Efficient Reconfigurable Cockpit Design and Fleet Operations using Software Intensive, Networked and Wireless Enabled Architecture) seedling proposal, which is funded by the Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) project, Transformative Aeronautics Concepts (TAC) program, and NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). The project consists of a brief effort carried out by a small team in the Electromagnetic Environment Effects (E3) laboratory with the intention of exposing some of the challenges faced by a wireless communication system inside the reflective cavity of an aircraft and to explore potential solutions that take advantage of that environment for constructive gain. The research effort was named EWAIC for "Enabling Wireless Aircraft Intra-communications." The E3 laboratory is a research facility that includes three electromagnetic reverberation chambers and equipment that allow testing and generation of test data for the investigation of wireless systems in reflective environments. Using these chambers, the EWAIC team developed a set of tests and setups that allow the intentional variation of intensity of a multipath field to reproduce the environment of the various bays and cabins of large transport aircraft. This setup, in essence, simulates an aircraft environment that allows the investigation and testing of wireless communication protocols that can effectively be used as a tool to mitigate some of the risks inherent to an aircraft wireless system for critical functions. In addition, the EWAIC team initiated the development of a computational modeling tool to illustrate the propagation of EM waves inside the reflective cabins and bays of aircraft and to obtain quantifiable information regarding the degradation of signals in aircraft subassemblies. The nose landing gear of a UAV CAD model was used to model the propagation of a system in a "deployed" configuration versus a "stowed" configuration. The differences in relative field strength provide valuable information about the distribution of the field that can be used to engineer RF links with optimal radiated power and antenna configuration that accomplish the intended system reliability. Such modeling will be necessary in subsequent studies for managing multipath propagation characteristics inside a main cabin and to understand more complex environments, such as the inside wings, landing gear bays, cargo bays, avionics bays, etc. The results of the short research effort are described in the present document. The team puts forth a set of recommendations with the intention of informing the project and program leadership of the future work that, in the opinion of the EWAIC team, would assist the ECON team reach the intended goal of developing an all-wireless aircraft.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Torres, Omar
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Nguyen, Truong
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Mackenzie, Anne
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
January 20, 2017
Publication Date
December 1, 2016
Subject Category
Avionics And Aircraft Instrumentation
Aircraft Communications And Navigation
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 533127.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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