Posted on: 19 December 2012 by Mark Howells
Boeing has conducted tests on wireless signals within aircraft cabins, with an aim to improve in-flight connectivity for passengers using networked personal electronic devices.
Boeing engineers created a new process for measuring radio signal quality using proprietary measurement technology and analysis tools. This enables engineers to measure how strong a signal is and how far it spreads, ensuring a safe signal penetration throughout an airplane cabin.
Boeing’s new test process uses state-of-the-art technology and statistical analysis to identify strong and weak signal areas and balance them by adjusting the connectivity system accordingly. The intention is to increase safety and reliability.
This technology was first developed to ensure that signal propagation met the regulatory safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft’s critical electrical systems.
Initially using a de-commissioned airplane, the team at Boeing Test & Evaluation laboratories conducted a series of such tests. Potatoes were considered as ideal stand-ins for passengers, given their similar physical interactions with electronic signal properties. Much of the testing was conducted on the grounded airplane with the seats filled with 20,000 pounds of potato sacks. The test data was then validated on the ground with human stand-ins for passengers.
Boeing claims the new method has reduced testing from two weeks to 10 hours.