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Advanced Wireless Maintainer Communications in Electromagnetically Noisy Environments


OBJECTIVE: Develop technology for reliable, high-bandwidth wireless data and voice communications with low probability of intercept that could be used on the ground for maintainers in electromagnetically noisy environments. DESCRIPTION: Military aircraft platforms can operate from and in highly dynamic environments with many ground personnel performing various tasks, such as ordnance loading, hot fueling, recovery of equipment and personnel, and multiple aircraft launches and in-flight mission operations. Mission success requires a high level of coordination and communication. Current systems for wireless communication around and aboard aircraft platforms have been unreliable and sometimes inadequate due both to susceptibility in high energy electromagnetic environments and to interference with other avionics equipment due to self-generated radio frequesncy (RF) emissions. An innovative implementation of communications transmission technologies that could provide aircraft maintainers with close to 100 percent reliable wireless voice and data communication with other maintainers and the pilots both while standing near the aircraft and up to a radius as far as 300 feet (~100 meters) for flight line operations is sought. Examples include optical and ultrasonic transmissions, or other methods that will not be susceptible to electromagnetic noise. These technologies should be capable to integrate with existing maintainer radio communications with minimal impact to space and power requirements. Consideration should be given to methods to keep communications to the relevant parties (maintainer to maintainer, maintainer to pilot, etc) without inhibiting effective communications intelligibility of other personnel across the flight line or flight deck environment. Further, integration to aircrew communications headsets and helmets should be possible in order to allow clear communications from the aircraft cockpit without having a maintainer plugged into the aircraft communications system. Future development should allow the technology to extend to all flight deck and flight line maintainers, and eventually to rotary wing and transport aircraft platforms to allow aircrew constant communications with the aircraft communications system even while operating outside the aircraft. It is important to note that the aircraft operational environments, such as the aircraft carrier flight deck, present considerable challenges. Electromagnetic interference from operating radar is an especially critical problem with existing radio frequency technologies. In addition, proposed solutions should consider other environmental factors of military air operations, both shipboard and ashore, such as temperature extremes, exposure to elements (solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, freezing rain, acidic atmosphere, etc.), and contamination by fluids (jet fuel, hydraulic oil, lubrication oil, solvents, etc). PHASE I: Provide aconceptual design and determine the feasibility through analysis and/or focused demonstrations. Address cost and performance for the maintainer and in the airframe environment to the maximum extent possible. PHASE II: Develop a prototype system and demonstrate it in a relevant environment such as the simulated flight deck electromagnetic environment used in MIL-STD-464 testing. Perform ANSI speech intelligibility and attenuation testing on prototypes integrated with maintainer headsets to test plans. Provide an assessment of cost, performance, reliability and supportability. PHASE III: Further develop a prototype for robustness, shock testing, manufacturability and reliability/maintainability. Qualify it for flight safety. Produce production units and integrate them into targeted maintainer and pilot systems, including interface with known aircraft communications systems. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The communications industry would benefit from technologies developed under this topic to apply to new concepts in communications transmissions. REFERENCES: 1. Tanaka, Y, Haruyama, S., & Nakagawa, M. (2000). Wireless optical transmissions with white colored LED for wireless home links. Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications. PIMRC. The 11th IEEE International Symposium on, vol.2 pp.1325-1329. & arnumber=881634 & 2. 500 Megabits/Second with White LED Light. news release (Siemens). 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 3. Lee, I.E., Sim, M.L., & Kung, F.W.L.(2009). Performance enhancement of outdoor visible-light communication system using selective combining receiver. Optoelectronics, IET, vol.3, no.1, pp.30-39 4. IEEE 802.15 WPAN Task Group 7 (TG7) Visible Light Communication. IEEE 802 local and metro area network standards committee. 2009. Retrieved June 28, 2011 5. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) S3.2-2009, Method for Measuring the Intelligibility of Speech over Communications Systems. 6. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) S12.6-2008, Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors.
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