Research that is expected to provide insight for speed-of-light, free-space communications occurring between aircraft, aircraft-to-ground, aircraft-to-aircraft and aircraft-to-satellites will continue forward as officials from Notre Dame’s Center for Flow Physics/Controls Aero-Optics and Riley Aviation signed a renewal agreement last week.
“We are progressing nicely toward actual flight operations later this year,” said Airborne Aero-Optics’ manager Michael Zenk. “Computer simulations of the entire system have been completed and have produced good results.”
University faculty have been coordinating with Riley maintenance personnel to ensure all system modifications will pass FAA scrutiny and secure their approval. Riley jet aircraft will be used in the actual test flight phase of the research, which is scheduled to be completed by late summer or early fall. Riley is based at Kirsh Municipal Airport in Sturgis, Michigan, just north of the Indiana border.
“An initial flight with a surrogate turret will hopefully occur sometime in the late spring or early summer,” continued Zenk. “We expect delivery of the operational research turret in May and the Laser system in early June. Once we have the turret and laser system at Notre Dame, we plan to complete extensive testing in our Mach 0.6 wind tunnel to ensure their correct operation under actual airflow conditions.”
The project’s overall mission is to understand how the turbulence around an aircraft affects light and laser transmissions and how turbulence-imposed distortions can be corrected.