The opportunities and challenges associated with wireless interconnects in aircraft

M. Panitz, D. C. Hope, T. Sato, C. D. Harley, C. Christopoulos, P. Sewell, J. F. Dawson, A. C. Marvin, E. Fearon, K. G. Watkins, G. Dearden, W. J. Crowther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Utilizing wireless data buses in aircraft has the potential to increase reliability, reduce weight, and improve flexibility and adaptability. In this article, the implementation of wirelessly connected interconnects in aircraft is introduced from a broad perspective, considering the issues of radio systems, propagation, antennas, and applications.

Existing avionics systems are discussed briefly in order to understand the requirements placed on a wireless system and the specification it must meet. A review of existing wireless protocols and commercial off the shelf systems is provided, explaining where systems including ZigBee and IEEE 802.11 are suitable and unsuitable for a wireless aircraft application, and it is found that no existing system can be used exclusively. It is shown quantitatively that the propagation environment is expected to have high delay spreads and the negative impact of this on system reliability is shown through simulation and measurements.

The application and benefits of a direct write, in-situ, metallic deposition procedure are discussed for the placement of antennas, sensors, and their associated electronics. By writing electronics onto a surface, fitting and retrofitting are made much easier without the need to affect the aircraft structure, and this enables a more flexible wireless system. The opportunities, advantages and challenges for such a technology within the wireless aircraft are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-470
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the institution of mechanical engineers part g-Journal of aerospace engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • wireless communications
  • ZigBee
  • fly by wireless
  • reverberation chamber
  • wireless propagation
  • direct write
  • cavity resonances
  • sensor network
  • vehicular networks

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