Aircraft Integrity Radio Network Evaluation Technology (AIRNET)


NASA Dryden Flight Research Center contracted with Invocon to develop a multi-sensor detection, automated network, radio-based, low power, relay communications system capable of monitoring in-flight aircraft performance. The network was intended to collect airframe data from remote wireless units installed throughout the aircraft and store that data on a central communications unit on the aircraft. When the aircraft is within range of one member of a network of specialized cell phone towers, the data should be automatically downloaded immediately to the Internet for use by subscribers.

Actual flight testing of the system demonstrated the operation of the smart network as well as the air-to-ground download of multiple network units on the aircraft.

The primary application for the technology is for Prognostic Health Monitoring (PHM) of airframes and engines. This data gathering process does not need continuous information from transducers on the aircraft. Most data analyzed is highly processed on the airframe within the unit that controls the data acquisition. This low duty cycle and the resulting reductions in data via the local processing reduces the downlink bandwidth. Thus, large amounts of information can be gathered on the airframe and stored for short periods of time while the aircraft is between cell phone towers. When the aircraft is within range of a tower, the “smart network” of data gathering points admits the aircraft and all its data gathering units into the system so that the download of the collected data may take place. Once at the cell phone tower, the data is transferred immediately to the internet for use by subscribers.

There are significant uses for the network in aircraft testing and in aircraft readiness reporting. Other uses include all types of vehicle testing where hard wire connections between the subject test area on the vehicle and the data monitoring points are not possible due to differential spatial movement.

  • Sample Rate: Programmable from 4.8Hz to 1KHz
  • Approximate Size: 10cm x 14cm x 4.5cm