UK gives $2.5 million for less-wire aircraft

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Prototype wireless data systems could be tested in 2011 as part of the UK Wireless Technologies for Novel Enhancement of Systems and Structures Serviceability (Witnesss) initiative.

Witnesss, which has £1.6 million ($2.56 million) from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board, aims to help enable data transmission around the aircraft during flight. Wireless transmission means fewer cables, which saves weight and simplifies assembly. The first application of this wireless data system will not include flight-critical data.

GE Aviation's Bishops Cleeve facility's avionics vice-president Simon Young says: "It is envisaged that wireless transmission has...a crucial role in advanced prognostics and diagnostics. The technical challenges of implementing wireless technology in the harsh environment of an aircraft are important."

The Witnesss consortium, led by TRW Conekt, includes AgustaWestland, Airbus UK, BAE Systems, Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, GE Aviation, Qinetiq, QM Systems and Rolls-Royce.

 ge aviation
 ©GE Aviation
Witness initiave wireless aircraft graphic

On 8-10 June, the 2009 Fly-by-Wireless workshop was held in Montreal. Organised by Caneus International, the workshop examined electromagnetic immunity for wireless systems, structural health monitoring, passive wireless sensor tags and less-wire architectures.

Caneus is a Montreal-based consortium of aerospace organisations and governments interested in micro and nano technologies. The workshop's delegates are from Bell Helicopter Textron, Bombardier Aerospace, the Canadian Space Agency, Defence Research and Development Canada, GE Global Research, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, NASA, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Stanford University, the University of Liverpool and the US Air Force.