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Application of Optical Wireless Communications for Avionics

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000255105D
Publication Date: 2018-Aug-30

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


The use of wireless data communications in the cockpit is a growing trend and serves as an important way to link wireless devices with a host of flight related information sources. This trend is evident by the continued adoption of mobile devices to support flight crew operations and by the strong investment into on-board wireless network services. An example of a new data service for flight crew to access is the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) recent demonstration of System Wide Information Management (SWIM). SWIM provides wireless delivery of flight related information to help improve flight crew situational awareness. The data from SWIM allows flight crew mobile devices to access aeronautical, weather and flight information sources provided by the FAA [1]. Evaluation of information data connections shows that modest data exchange rates of 64 bits per second (legacy aviation broadband services) up to 3 megabits per second (satellite data links) have been reported [1]. In addition, technological advancements in head-worn displays and wearable smart devices are becoming more dependent upon wireless data communications to enhance user comfort and freedom of movement. Currently, radio frequency (RF) communication is the dominant mode for wireless devices in the cockpit. This presents several challenges to include immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI) while operating within limited bandwidth channels along with ensuring proper signal uniformity throughout a given space. The RF signal must also be encrypted due to its ability to leak out of the cockpit and be intercepted by unauthorized parties. Methods exist to address signal uniformity by optimizing access point RF antenna locations throughout the aircraft compartments [4]. Offering alternative or complementary wireless communication methods to RF signals may enhance the safety and reliability of aircraft wireless networks. An alternate wireless communication mode that is immune to EMI, contained by non-transparent materials and uses existing avionics equipment is an attractive alternative to traditional RF wireless communications.