Harmonised Antennas, Radios, and Networks
Until now, introducing new communications technology to aircraft has meant the introduction of additional equipment to existing systems that were not originally designed to host the equipment. Thus, the communications systems of modern cockpits are numerous and unintegrated, with associated challenges of additional weight and power requirements.
The HARNet programme has developed a radically different approach to communications systems on civil aircraft. New radio techniques and technologies, in the form of integrated modular communications, provide several benefits including higher reliability; safety and security; a reduction in weight, allowing a reduction in power; and an improvement in operational efficiency that can lead to a reduction in fuel burn, noise and CO2 emissions.
The consortium was led by Thales, with Cobham as a key collaborating partner, aided and supported by the research of the University of Bradford, the University of Southampton, and Queen Mary College, London. The project was split into two phases of two and four years respectively, running sequentially.
The specific areas of technology development are novel antenna solutions, mesh networking, radio frequency power amplifiers, radio frequency to digital baseband transceivers, I/Q radio bus interconnection, and reconfigurable software defined radio baseband waveform processors. A comprehensive automatic testing environment was developed for cost effective testing and certification of a future integrated modular communications (IMC) system.