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Reducing Wiring Complexity: GE Aviation supports the adoption of WiTNESSS with its wireless sensor technology

29th May 2009 - 10:55 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


GE Aviation is to develop wireless data gathering and transmission technology for aircraft applications in support of the WiTNESSS (WIreless Technologies for Novel Enhancement of Systems and Structures Serviceability) initiative.

Data transfer is essential for many aircraft health monitoring and test instrumentation applications on fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and engine test beds.

The potential advantages of transferring the data wirelessly, for these applications, are many and include: a significant weight saving; simplified integration (as there are no wires/cables to route); and easier access to the data. Conversely, the absence of flight-critical data in these applications makes them an ideal proving ground for wireless technology.

Simon Young, vice president, Avionics at Bishops Cleeve comments: “Where ease of access to the data is concerned it is envisaged that wireless transmission has the potential of greatly reducing aircraft maintenance time by playing a crucial role in advanced prognostics and diagnostics.”

“The technical challenges of implementing wireless technology in the harsh environment of an aircraft are important. Some of these challenges have been addressed by other industries; for example, wireless data capture is increasingly employed in condition-based monitoring within many industries, specifically to optimise manufacturers’ predictive maintenance routines.” Young notes: “WiTNESSS aims to build on what has been learned in these other industries and extend the technologies and practices into the aerospace arena.”

The WiTNESSS consortium, which is supported by a £1.6m ($2.5m) investment from the Technology Strategy Board, comprises: TRW Conekt (lead partner); QinetiQ Ltd; QM Systems Limited; Rolls-Royce plc; Airbus UK; BAE Systems; System Level Integration Limited; GE Aviation; Bombardier Aerospace Belfast; Ultra Electronics BCF; and AgustaWestland.

Young concludes: “The collaboration between large and small companies - including aircraft manufacturers, technology developers and component and system suppliers - brings together their key skills to maximise the effectiveness of the WiTNESSS project.”

The project aims to test prototype data gathering systems on representative platforms in early 2011 and will be disseminating results later that year.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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