Hyper-Spectral Communications and Networking for ATM: Results and Prospective Future

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Over the past two years we have worked on a project for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) University Leadership Initiative (ULI) program. Our project is entitled Hyper-Spectral Communications, Networking and ATM as Foundation for Safe and Efficient Future Flight: Transcending Aviation Operational Limitations with Diverse and Secure Multi-Band, Multi-Mode, and mmWave Wireless links. For brevity we abbreviate this title HSCNA. The four-institution HSCNA project is the only ULI program to address communications and networking, and thus far has been extremely productive: we have published 10 journal papers, 54 conference papers, 2 book chapters, and multiple technical reports, with another 10-20 papers in review, and 2 patent applications. In addition to publications we are developing a dual-band radio system for flight testing in the 2020 Boeing Eco-Demonstrator program, have developed systems for assessing wideband short-range millimeter wave (mmWave) airport radio links, and systems for detection of unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). We have also developed a future Concept of Operations (ConOps) document and are developing a simulation tool to assess gains of our HSCNA technologies when used in the National Airspace System (NAS). In this paper we summarize our project and provide example results and findings. We first provide a short overview of the ULI program and its goals within the ARMD Strategic Implementation Plan. We then describe our project’s six primary tasks, which are specifically, (i) the ConOps development; (ii) a comprehensive categorization and evaluation of current and planned communications technologies that can be used for aviation, across frequency spectrum spanning five orders of magnitude (e.g., 3 MHz HF through 100 GHz), including evaluation of performance gaps; (iii) design, development, and proof-of-concept testing of a multi-band aviation communication system; (iv) evaluation of mmWave frequency bands and technologies for use in advanced airport communication applications; (v) evaluation of RF detection of unauthorized UAS via several techniques; and, (vi) development of a simulation system to enable exploration of potential gains of these HSCNA technologies in ATM. The example results we provide include analyses, computer simulations, laboratory experiments, and field testing. We also describe plans for the final phase of our project, and discuss impacts and future work.