Electromagnetic Interference to be Minimized Further

January 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

A team of researchers from the University of York’s Department of Electronics have won a European grant to help aerospace companies try to produce safer aircraft whilst at the same time reducing costs involved. The team will specifically be attempting to tackle the problem of trying to test aircraft equipment against electromagnetic interference during the manufacture process.

The vast majority of modern aircraft are manufactured with an ever-more complicated computerized system on board. This system is often largely responsible for the aircraft’s ability to stay aloft and to provide the information needed for the pilot to successfully navigate his way to his destination. It also tells him when something might be wrong with his aircraft before it is too late, and it helps him to land and take off safely. All these things are essential to the lives and safety of those on board. So when this equipment is jeopardized by electromagnetic interference things on board can become quite hair-raising. Electromagnetic interference in aircraft can be caused by things such as high-powered radar, electronic communication, electronic operation in passing aircraft and sometimes even lightning. Fortunately most modern aircraft are usually tested fully to avoid the chance of this becoming a major problem for anyone who might be flying in the aircraft at a later stage. Unfortunately for manufacturers, this part of the process occurs quite late and so any problems found can cause major setbacks in getting the aircraft ready for sale.

With this in mind, a new €28m pan-European project has been launched to explore ways of improving the existing computer-based modeling programs so that potential problems can be found and fixed earlier in the production process. According to Professor Andy Marvin, the leader of the team from the University of York, it can be quite costly to not only test for problems but especially to rectify them. He said: “This testing process, and rectifying any problems that are discovered, can prove very costly indeed. If potential risks can be identified in the early stages of their design, that will improve safety and save manufacturers significant amounts of time and money.” Clearly improving on current methods of testing for electromagnetic interference in aircraft is a win-win situation for all concerned.

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