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Fly-By-Wireless Set For Take-Off

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CFM56 airplane engine

Wireless sensors could help aircraft like the Airbus A320, shown here with a CFM56 engine, shed pounds.

Credit: Sipa Press / Rex Features

Aircraft manufacturers eager to reduce the weight of planes are looking into the replacement of copper wiring with wireless networks. Imbuing fly-by-wireless networks with robustness could potentially make them more reliable while also boosting flying's environmental friendliness.

The deployment of wireless sensors is likely to be the first step in the implementation of fly-by-wireless networks, and the Institute for System Level Integration's Mark Begbie says the amount of wiring needed to monitor, maintain, and control planes has increased concurrent with the growing complexity of aircraft and their engines.

A plane's construction and maintenance can be significantly eased with the replacement of wires with wireless systems, says GE Aviation Systems' Myles Taylor. Engineering consultant Roger Hazelden says that as much as 15 percent of an aircraft's weight and 12 percent of its fuel consumption could be shed by mounting sensors on many more parts of the airframe and engines.

Any wireless network incorporated into aircraft will need to resist interference from passengers' electronic gadgets and disruption from environmental factors such as lightning strikes. In addition, the network will have to deal with the potential for deliberate assaults by hackers. Prior to the deployment of any wireless system will be its compliance with standards established by entities such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.

From New Scientist
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