The Airbus Group Innovations research and technology network is leading a company-wide electric aircraft roadmap. The development of flying demonstrators E-Fan, allows the group to evaluate the feasibility and benefits of e-aircraft technology. The wide ranging research into disruptive technologies and other programs will enable improvements across the Group’s product range, including more on-board electrical power to increase aircraft efficiency, reduce noise and lower emissions.
Success in this research project requires transfer of large amounts of data in real time. It was therefore important for Airbus to scrutinise the various technologies available within the market to find the most adaptive, best in class technologies. The RipEX radio modem is renowned for overall data throughput and this, combined with the way in which state-of-the-art concepts have been carefully implemented, provide the Airbus Group with the optimal solution.
In over 100 test flights leading up to the record crossing of the Channel, Airbus used one RipEX unit in the E-Fan transmitting telemetry data to another RipEX unit in the support aircraft. Successful communications were managed to over 35kms with only 10cm antennas being used on each unit.
For the record 38 minute flight itself, Airbus used air to air communication for transfer of data but also had simultaneous communications with static units on the ground. Because of the flight distance of 74 kms, a static unit was installed at either airport. Initially, air to ground communication was established with the RipEX unit in England and half way through the flight, a new communication link was automatically established with the RipEX unit at the landing airport in France. This network set up ensured telemetry data was being simultaneously transmitted, to two independent units throughout the entire flight.