Centre d’innovació i Tecnologia BARCELONATECH

Electromagnetic compatibility in aeroplanes

In the coming months, we will no longer be asked to turn off our mobile phones or tablets when we are on board aircraft. This change could not take place until the electromagnetic compatibility between our personal electronic devices and aeroplanes’ control, navigation and communication systems could be guaranteed. 

Due to the high complexity of current aircraft, complete, expensive tests, trials and validations must be carried out to obtain certification for a plane and be able to put it into service. One set of tests is undertaken to verify the aircraft’s electromagnetic compatibility. This process is extremely costly in time and money, due to the installations that are required and the difficulties of testing in the design and prototype phases.

The HIRF-SE European project, which has been carried out over the last four years, has developed numerical simulation methods to assess the electromagnetic compatibility of aeroplanes and helicopters in the design phase and in the final validation for certification. The opportunity to assess the electromagnetic behaviour of the wiring and structure, taking into account the new materials used in aeronautics and before the final prototype of the aircraft is available, helps to considerably shorten the expensive certification and qualification stage.

A total of 43 partners from 12 European countries have been involved in the project, whose total budget is 26.5 million euros.

The UPC’s Electromagnetic Compatibility Group worked on various tasks in this project. It developed post-processing and validation techniques for the simulation results. In addition, it participated in the test campaigns, by carrying out measurements on parts of unmanned helicopters and aeroplanes in the group’s laboratories. In addition, in collaboration with other partners, the group participated in the complete measurements for a helicopter in the facilities of Alenia, the Italian company that is coordinating the project.