Cobham have engineered a device that takes a 'pie in the sky' idea and turns it into PIES in the sky. Their 'Aviator S' is intended primarily for communicating flight data between the aircraft and the ground, but potentially has a secondary role through its Passenger Information and Entertainment Services (PIES). With this device, airline passengers would be able to stay in touch with social media and emails without interrupting the aircraft's operations.
Even though this device is not safety-critical to the aircraft's operation, it still needs to pass vigorous testing before it can be used commercially. One of these tests is the resilience of the device to neutrons generated by cosmic rays. Luckily for them, a neutron source is based just the other side of the Harwell Campus.
“Having access to a world-class neutron facility like ISIS, here in the UK, is a huge advantage for Cobham. The alternatives are located in North America so there is a significant cost advantage in using ISIS for the testing and qualification of our aerospace equipment," says Managing Director, Dr Richard Sharp.
The ChipIr beamline at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source can test the effect of many years of exposure to cosmic neutrons in just one day. By using ChipIr, Cobham were able to identify any issues cause by the radiation and ensure changes were made so the equipment met the standards required.
The beamline access required to accelerate the productivity of this business was provided through STFC's B4I programme, which helps companies to overcome product, manufacturing or process performance issues. Working closely with STFC research and innovation experts, companies can develop projects that address specific innovation challenges to accelerate business productivity.
“Access to funding under the B4I scheme enabled us to carry out much more extensive testing of our system than would have been feasible otherwise." Richard explains; “the support provided by the ChipIr team was fantastic and helped us produce a market-leading system, with full confidence in its reliability in the natural aerospace radiation environment."
Learn more on ISIS Neutron and Muon Source instrument ChipIr.
Find out more about the B4I scheme at ISIS.
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