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Fly By Wireless Takes Flight  
User currently offlineCaptainjon From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3419 times:

just read this article, thought it was rather interesting.


A plane with no wires or mechanical connections between its engine, navigation system and onboard computers – only a wireless network – has been built and flown by engineers in Portugal.

The 3-metre-long uncrewed plane "AIVA" relies entirely upon a Bluetooth wireless network to relay messages back and forth between critical systems – a technique dubbed "fly-by-wireless".

Tests flights carried out in Portugal have shown that the system works well. Cristina Santos, at Minho University in Portugal, who developed the plane, says the aim is primarily to reduce weight and power requirements. "Also, if you do not have the cables then the system is much more flexible to changes," she says.

Many modern planes already use electronic wires, instead of the mechanical links and cables found in older planes, to connect components. This is a lighter and more compact way to control these systems. Some planes, such as the Boeing 777 even use optical fibres, which can carry multiple signals through a single cable.

Radio jamming

Replacing wires with wireless radio links is a logical next step says Peter Mellor from the Centre for Software Reliability at City University in London, UK, who was not involved with the project. But he adds that it raises completely new safety issues.

Such wireless links could be susceptible to electromagnetic interference or even jamming, Mellor suggests. And it could be more difficult to build in back-up wireless connections, he says. "If you jam one link you would jam both," he warns.

But Santos and colleagues are working on this. She says Bluetooth is already fairly resistant to disruption as it is designed to guarantee a certain minimum data stream will always get through. "It has mechanisms for dealing with interference," she says.

In-car radio

Even so, Santos says the system would need extensive testing before she would be willing to ride in a fly-by-wireless plane. She also admits that stringent aviation regulations may mean the technology first appears in cars rather than planes.

"Cables are already a problem in cars," Santos says, because many manufacturers cram ever more electronic gadgetry into each new model.

She admits the idea of having no physical connections may seem scary at first but believes ultimately it will become an accepted way to control brakes and even steering mechanisms in road vehicles.

The findings were presented on Tuesday at the International Conference of Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Florida, US.

Bluetooth seems like an interesting choice. Probably better than 802.11 standard. i guess laptops will be banned, or i hope they heavily encrypt the signal, or other nearby aircraft wont intecept it and receive its information...

[Edited 2006-05-16 22:28:48]

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 7142 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3378 times:

That's hardly anything new. Model aeroplanes - mainly small, electric powered indoor models - have flown on bluetooth based control systems for some time and such complete control systems are now becomming commercially available at very modest prices.

Wireless coms are likely to find a lot of applications on future airliners, such as IFE, internet, passenger phones, PA system, fasten seat belt signs, lav occupied signs, F/A alert and probably much more.

But for primary controls? No way. At least not as long as the last terrorist hasn't been killed. It will never be certified. Radio signals - encrypted or not - can always be jammed by simple power on the radio frequencies involved.

But pretty soon bundles of wires may be exchanged with fibre optical data buses. That would produce roughly the same gains. And it would be safe, at least when keeping the needed communication software lightyears away from the hands of Bill Gates.

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlineCaptainJon From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 3313 times:

yes but aileron, rudder, elevator controls? if jack bauer can roll the plane by pulling on a cable, you dont need box cutters to storm a fightdeck, just hack it from your laptop and fly into what you want. sounds a little extreme and im sure the FAA will think of this scenario long before this happens, just an interesting concept nonetheless.

User currently offlineLredlefsen From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 151 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3283 times:

Quoting Captainjon (Thread starter):
A plane with no wires or mechanical connections between its engine, navigation system and onboard computers – only a wireless network – has been built and flown by engineers in Portugal.

Quoting Captainjon (Thread starter):
The aim is primarily to reduce weight and power requirements.

Ignoring the obvious safety and security problems for a minute, does this even make sense?

How much weight could possibly be saved when compared to optical fibers, a proven technology?

And how much power (electrical power, I'm assuming) could possibly be saved, *especially* when one considers the amount of power a radio transmitter consumes?

Sounds like an interesting science project, as long as they fly over water or the desert...  Smile

User currently offlineCaptainJon From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3181 times:

I agree, i really dont think much weight will be saved to really make a difference for efficiency in flight.

User currently offlineRichM From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 803 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3146 times:

This could impose serious security problems as it could open it up to hackers. Attackers may be able to find a way to exploit the system and consequently send commands and put the aircraft in danger. Encryption alone isn't fail-safe.

It may also be possible for an attacker to cause interference and thus, disable the control of the aircraft from the pilots.

These are both problems that wireless technologies encounter on a daily basis.
Having said that, I'm sure the people developing such systems, will look into the problems listed above in great detail. (Or at least I hope so!)

[Edited 2006-05-17 23:05:22]

User currently offlineCaptainJon From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3084 times:

i hope and i am sure it uses some propierty signal the FCC/FAA will make them use. 802.11x is all too common on any laptop and that hijack a plane from the comfort of the persons seat. I am sure some heavily dynamically encrypted signal in the 5 GHz range would be useful but again, is the drawbacks really worth it? Does it make the plane that much lighter this can actually be of use?

it seems all neat and stuff, but again, when fly-by-wire came out, i am sure a lot of people thought it should still have hydraulic backups, in which i am sure they do, so if this is all about saving weight, i hope there is still wired back up on the aircraft because i wouldnt want to be a passenger of any such plane, unless i am up front. i can see a new position open up now, flight technology officer that makes sure the system doesnt get hacked and takes evasive measures when it does. ok enough ranting i need to finish packing, i am going to TLV tomorrow.

User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5898 posts, RR: 38
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 3018 times:
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And this should raise just enough concern to stop this RIGHT NOW...


If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
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