Aerospace

Radio altimeter test solution designed for a new era of secure aviation

17 May 2022

The ALT-9000 universal radio altimeter (RADALT) flight line test set from Viavi Solutions Inc. addresses safety and security issues in the aviation industry with the addition of fiber optic delay to traditional radio frequency (RF) testing, enabling it to test all types of RADALTS on the market today.

The RADALT measures an aircraft’s altitude above the terrain by transmitting RF signals down to the ground and receiving a reflection. To prevent potential spoofing or jamming of the return signal, modern RADALTs use more complex waveforms, and the U.S. military has transitioned a majority of its aircraft to these models. Also, as 5G networks begin to use C-band frequencies, older RADALTs may lack the required Source: Viavi Solutions Inc.Source: Viavi Solutions Inc.interference protection. These trends call for updated testing technology and procedures to address legacy and new RADALT types, and to enable rapid retesting to identify issues that can disrupt flight operations.

The VIAVI ALT-9000 is a portable test set that utilizes fiber-optic delay to allow it to work with all types of radio altimeters. It tests the complete RADALT system, allowing the operator to isolate a problem to the antenna, coaxial cable, line-replaceable unit (LRU) or indicator, eliminating unnecessary swaps or replacements of system components. The ALT-9000 performs complete closed-loop system tests, replicates in-flight conditions and creates profiles for dynamic altitude simulations. The comprehensive, efficient and user-friendly test process enables more frequent testing of flight systems, reducing the cost of takeoff failures.

"After two years of the global pandemic, the aviation industry is planning for increased demand and a return to normal operations," said Guy Hill, director of avionics test products, VIAVI. "Aircraft operators, avionics system manufacturers, and maintenance, repair and overhaul service providers should adopt best practices to prevent further disruption, especially with increased focus on safety, security and efficient operation of radio altimeters. The ALT-9000 has been designed to support those best practices for all RADALTs on the market.”

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com


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