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Advanced Technologies for Networking in Avionic Applications


Communications, navigation and surveillance services in the future avionics network will reflect significant advances in technology and capability and in the distribution of responsibilities for air traffic management.

Digital communications, which are the basis of the Personal Communication and In-Flight Entertainment in aeronautics, will be the cornerstone of the next generation’s systems aimed at increasing transportation access and mobility, alleviating current airspace-capacity saturation. The implementation of these emerging technologies presents a considerable challenge, which the ATENAA project aims to meet.

Project objectives

The ATENAA project will investigate the possible use of Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking, Optical and Ka-band broadband communications as the emerging technologies within the context of a unified communication environment, which will be able to serve all future aviation needs, providing high quality services.

The objectives, which ATENAA has to accomplish, begin with the definition of the concept of a future networked avionic environment including moving platforms (aircraft and satellites), ground infrastructures, and the related users and communication systems.

Within such a framework, the identified emerging technologies are assessed against their applicability in the realisation of broadband communication systems for the avionic-networked environment. Testing and validation of these emerging HW and SW technologies are performed against a common set of service requirements.

The final objective is to evaluate the overall performance and define a common baseline for the future demonstration and implementation of the avionic network.

Description of the work

The technical work of the ATENAA project is subdivided into three main Work Packages.

The first Work Package investigates the possible use of Mobile Ad Hoc networking to present a complete communications package that will serve current and future avionics applications. Initially the Avionic Network concept will be introduced and an assessment of the present communication systems’ performance will be made. After that, possible operational scenarios will be assessed and the related requirements for the network will be established. MANET routing protocols will then be investigated and simulated, to select those that best apply to an aeronautical environment. Finally, the work will focus on security aspects. Earlier analysis will be integrated with such considerations and the results will be evaluated through simulation.

Work Package 2 is dedicated to developing Ka-band transceiver technologies for avionic use. The work will initially focus on the RF system requirements definition. The system’s overall architecture and the subsystems’ specifications will be also defined based on the above analysis. The second point of interest is the development of Ka-band antennas. Two antennas will be considered: a receiving antenna (RX) in the range of 20 GHz and a transmitting antenna in the range of 30 GHz (TX). Additionally a Ka band phase shifter for the RX antenna will be studied, simulated, developed and tested. Lastly, the array antenna will be integrated and tested. All the characteristics parameters will be measured in an antenna test range at the SATCOM Ka operational frequencies.

The third Work Package is aimed at investigating the technologies capable of increasing the network data throughput by implementing links at optical wavelengths. Initially an analysis will be performed and special attention will be paid to evaluating source safety, achievable data rates and operational range, as well as to the technologies needed to collimate and maintain the pointing of an optical beam when the transmitter and/or the receiver are installed onto a moving platform. Then the work will be further subdivided into outer links and inner links. In both cases, requirements will be defined and laboratory tests will be performed.

A final Work Package will see to the evaluation of project results and the dissemination and exploitation of project accomplishments.

Expected results

The expected results of the ATENAA project are the assessment of MANET, Optical and Ka-Band broadband communications as key emerging technologies within the context of a future aeronautical network. Such a network will be able to provide high-quality services to the future avionics community. This will include enhanced flight safety, improvement of the crisis management capability, air traffic management capability, and the increase of the quality of all onboard available services (both ATM- and passenger-related ones).