That’s Making Aviation Safer

By Deepshikha Shukla

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This article discusses the latest test and measurement technologies in the aviation industry

For public safety and the success of military missions, civil aviation and military operations require accurate location, distance and direction of measuring systems. Failure of any of these systems may place human lives at risk. Air navigation systems such as landing systems or enroute navigation systems require unique test and measurement (T&M) capabilities.

Innovative T&M solutions allow engineers to identify and fix problems early in the development of a new technology. Oftentimes, waiting until the end of the product lifecycle can prove to be cost-prohibitive. By investing in the correct test solutions, they can reduce cost and, most importantly, risk to projects. Test and verification of avionics hardware and software systems ensure the safety and efficiency of traffic management/air traffic control infrastructures worldwide.

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The instrument landing system indicates the distance to the reference point of landing using a combination of radio signals. It provides the aircraft with horizontal and vertical guidance before and during landing. The system also provides aircraft pilots with landing approach data relative to the ideal landing course. Marker beacon receivers provide signalling output to identify one of three marker beacons installed near the runway and decode audio data.

How instrument landing system works
Fig. 1: How instrument landing system works (Credit: www.quora.com)

The lightweight construction of vehicle and machinery components is validated through durability and fatigue testing of materials and structures. These tests include strain gauges, data acquisition systems and software, and force and displacement transducers. Fatigue life of the test specimen is determined by long-term dynamic load testing. To determine maximum static force or stress that the test specimen can tolerate, durability static load testing is done. This includes torsion, tensile, flexure and compression tests.

Some instruments

Madhukar Tripathi, head – marcom and optical business, Anritsu India Pvt Ltd, says, “Anritsu has been the leader in handheld portable T&M instruments that are widely used in aviation communication system maintenance and deployment. Vector network analyser (VNA) Master MS2025B/35B is used for instrument landing system cables measurement. VNA Master has a dedicated application (vector voltmeter) for the avionics industry.”

VNA Master MS2025B/MS2027C series and Site Master S331E/S361E are used by airplane companies for cable verification after installation in aircraft and during maintenance. These instruments are battery operated and suitable for field applications. These can be taken to antenna or air traffic control sites for various other measurements.

The instruments follow MIL standard for field applications and include latest displays for day and night vision. Master MS2038C is a VNA and spectrum analyser in one unit. It can also be used as a power meter.

VNA Master MS2038C
Fig. 2: VNA Master MS2038C (Credit: www.anritsu.com)

Site Master S820E is used as a cable and antenna analyser for verification of various components, like antenna, radar and cables, used in avionics communication systems.
Remote spectrum analyser MS27103A is used for interference testing, network monitoring and multi-carrier monitoring. It is IP67-compliant, and is suitable for outdoor installations and network monitoring.

LMR Master S412E is a land mobile radio modulation analyser. It supports P25, DMR, APCO, NNBFM, TETRA and other standards used in radio communication by the avionics industry. LMR Master S412E can be used for indoor signal coverage application, which is important in mission-critical applications. LMR Master is equally good for radio applications, since this comprises VNA, spectrum analyser and power meter in a single, portable instrument.

Remote spectrum monitor MS27102A
Fig. 3: Remote spectrum monitor MS27102A (Credit: www.anritsu.com)

Tripathi adds, “USB-based power sensors are other popular instruments used for power measurements. We have updated our LMR Master S412E that has digital technologies including Long-Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is used for data-centric applications by industry.

We have added external USB-based oscillators and other related products to make LMR Master a complete radio testing solution.”

Joseph Pozzolano, vice president – sales and marketing, Behlman Electronics, says “We supply a number of 400Hz frequency converters to the aviation test industry. Our specialty is clean power in a rugged and reliable package. We manufacture a broad line of AC power supplies in both single-phase and three-phase output and frequency converters from 1000VA to 120,000VA. These are available with variable or fixed voltage and frequency output, manual or programmable control, with a variety of interfaces, unique protection circuitry and the ability to modify units as per application.”

Any worldwide utility can be simulated by Behlman’s P series. One simply needs to select the required frequency, dial-up desired voltage and voltage range, and it is ready for testing. It provides clean sine-wave output with excellent line and load regulation, low harmonic distortion and high efficiency in a compact size.

BLHP series (Behlman’s high power, AC power sources/frequency converters/inverters) models come with variable voltage and frequency, external sync and 0V DC to 10V DC remote control. There is optional IEEE 488 or RS232 interface for computer control. High efficiency, small size and quiet operation make the BLHP series suitable for precision avionics testing requirements.

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