MVG Introduces New Whitepaper Explaining Challenges of Testing Commercial Aircraft Radomes

MVG Introduces New Whitepaper Explaining Challenges of Testing Commercial Aircraft Radomes

Microwave Vision Group (MVG) has published a new white paper on how recent changes in RTCA-DO-213A standards have affected traditional radome testing methodologies. It also explains how the latest near-field technology enables radome repair facilities to complete faster test and repair outputs with respect to these new RTCA standards.

The slick, streamlined nose of an aircraft is designed for aerodynamics, but that is not its only purpose. It also serves a vital function, that of a radome (radar dome) which protects the antenna of the aircraft’s weather and other radar systems.

An important aspect of the radome is that it must be transparent to the frequency at which the weather radar operates. This is transmissivity and it is a measure of how well the radome transmits electromagnetic energy. Electrical transmissivity tests determine the quality of a radome’s electromagnetic transparency.

Aircraft radomes are subject to damage from many sources such as birds, hail, lightning, or even maintenance equipment. Once a radome is damaged, it immediately becomes susceptible to water ingress, which severely impedes the performance of the antennas and radars it encases.

Weather Radar Blind Spots

Consider, for example, a weather radar system; its purpose is to identify hazardous weather conditions as the aircraft is in flight. It searches for water in the air along its trajectory. If the aircraft’s radome is damaged, water can seep in and essentially create water pockets in the radome. The water trapped in the radome will render the weather radar antenna blind to anything that might be hiding in the shadow of the pockets of water. Therefore, not only will it detect a false rain source or storm in front of the aircraft, the pilot will not be able to see if any real storms exist beyond that, basically rendering the radar useless.

In fact, whatever alters the engineering precision of a radome leads to the deterioration of radar antenna performance and can result in safety or weather hazards during flight. Repairs are essential. And though a repaired radome may look good as new following repairs, it may sustain damage undetectable to the eye, which can block specific frequency(s) from reaching the weather radar. Validation testing of the radome is therefore also essential. To ensure these structural and electrical tests follow all radome repairs, the RTCA established the RTCA-DO-213 standards.

In recent years the RTCA has reassessed its guidance standards for the testing of commercial aircraft radomes, making substantial changes to its criteria and strengthening the accuracy requirements in the testing of repaired radomes. These regulatory changes have been welcomed by the industry, however, since the implementation of the RTCA-DO-213A, testing techniques and equipment are being challenged to comply with the changes in regulations. In parallel, the logistical demands of the marketplace, like many sectors, have moved in favor of time efficiencies and using less space.

Click here to read the whitepaper “Navigating the challenges of testing commercial aircraft radomes to RTCA-DO-213A standards”.

Publisher: everything RF