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

05-05-2022 | Viavi Solutions | Test & Measurement

VIAVI Solutions Inc. has launched the ALT-9000 universal radio altimeter (RADALT) flight line test set. As manufacturers produce RADALTs with more sophisticated waveforms to address safety and security issues in the aviation industry, the device adds fibre optic delay to traditional RF testing, allowing it to test all types of RADALTS currently available.

The RADALT measures an aircraft's altitude above the terrain by transmitting an RF signal down to the ground and receiving a reflection. To stop potential spoofing or jamming of the return signal, modern RADALTs employ more complex waveforms, and the US military has transitioned a bulk of its aircraft to these models. Also, as 5G networks start to use C-band frequencies, older RADALTs may lack the needed interference protection. These trends call for updated testing technology and procedures to manage legacy and new RADALT types and allow rapid retesting to determine issues that could disrupt flight operations.

The device is a portable test set that uses fibre-optic delay to enable it to work with all types of radio altimeters. It tests the whole RADALT system, permitting the operator to isolate a problem to the antenna, coaxial cable, LRU or indicator, eradicating unnecessary swaps or replacements of system components. It performs complete closed-loop system tests, replicates in-flight conditions, and produces profiles for dynamic altitude simulations. The complete, efficient and user-friendly test process allows more frequent testing of flight systems, lowering 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."

By Natasha Shek