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Developing Aircraft PHotonic NEtworks

The core of the DAPHNE is to exploit photonic technology from terrestrial communications networks with its associated performance developments and advantages in future European aircraft, and to identify and address technology gaps in implementing photonics extensively throughout the aircraft industry. Fibre optics and photonics offers obvious size, weight and bit rate advantages beyond aircraft systems state-of-the-art. DAPHNE brings together avionic equipment and aircraft manufacturers with photonic industry members and academic network specialists.

The DAPHNE objectives are tackled at four levels:

- Adapting optical terrestrial networks to aircraft needs;

- Defining of a modular infrastructure;

- Developing photonic component technology for aircraft environments;

- Disseminating project results to industry and standardising organisations to ensure effective uptake.

The DAPHNE project proves the benefits of providing an integrated optical data network. Instead of many discrete systems each with its own infrastructure, photonics allows a single network that delivers a “signal transport function” capable of supporting the channel segregation needs associated with different Design Assurance Levels (DALs, i.e., different levels of criticality) with the required quality-of-service characteristics of the channel. DAPHNE approach leads to reduced weight, cost and size of systems on board which allows for more seats to be fitted, more cargo to be carried or fuel usage to be reduced.

In the context of DAPHNE, the work carried out at INESC TEC is essentially related to theoretical studies, experimental performance analysis and prototype construction/demonstration, especially concerning radio-frequency-over-fibre (RoF) transmission. INESC TEC proposed and demonstrated new electro-optic transceivers for the transmission of differential GPS signals over optical fibre, focusing on the application of aircraft attitude determination. Furthermore, INESC TEC developed a new architecture for aircraft in-flight entertainment (IFE) supported in the distribution of optical signals through WiFi pico-cells.


Project leader: Airbus Operations, Germany


  • EADS Deutschland, Germany
  • BAES Systems, UK
  • SQS Vlaknova Optika, Czech Republic
  • Danish Technical University, Denmark
  • SELEX Galileo, Italy
  • Draka Automotive and Aviation, France
  • D-Lightsys, France
  • Gooch and Housego (Torquay), UK
  • AV Optics, UK
  • AgustaWestland, UK
  • GMV, Portugal
  • TU Ilmenau, Germany
  • INESC TEC, Portugal
  • Vivid Components, Germany

Financial support: DAPHNE is supported by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

Poster: DAPHNE

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