Projekte - Abgeschlossen


Mid-Term Networking Technologies In-Flight and Rig Validation for Avionic Applications

Inside the Institute for Communications and Navigations, two separate groups are contributing to MINERVAA: The Optical Communications Group inside the Digital Networks Section as well as the Antenna Group of section Navigation.


 Example of Aeronautical Networking Szenario
zum Bild Example of Aeronautical Networking Szenario

MINERVAA aims to be a fundamental step on the roadmap to the implementation of future aeronautical broadband networks. These Networks will enable High-Data-Rate Services for Aircraft passengers, like In-Flight-Entertainment such as Video-On-Demand or High-Speed Internet Connections. Besides that, flight-relevant information with high amounts of data, e.g. high-resolution weather maps, could be made available for airplane-captains and -crews.

MINERVAA applied the paradigm “bringing the technologies from the lab to the aircraft”. The project validated in flight the Outside-aircraft optical link technology and, on a fully representative aircraft mock-up, several Inside-aircraft optical link specific applications. The project also further developed at a larger extent the basic research on Ka-band avionic phased-array antennas, already carried out in ATENAA.

The Institute for Communication and Navigation will contribute to MINERVAA with developments and evaluations for the Outer-Optical-Link-System as well as for the Ka-band avionic phased-array antennas.


Outer-Optical Aircraft Link System

 The Minerva Airborne Terminal installed onboard DLR's Dornier 228
zum Bild The Minerva Airborne Terminal installed onboard DLR's Dornier 228
The strategic aim within MINERVAA was to build up a data link terminal to be installed within airliners and used within the ATENAA network concept for the provision of new onboard broadband communications services (time scenario 2010-2015+).

For this technology to be practically viable for civil aircraft installation, the following constraints were taken into account:

  • High safety (including eye-safety in this specific case)
  • High availability and reliability (i.e., capability to provide stable and continuous performance)
  • Limited installation impact (low mass, aerodynamical drag, power consumption, etc.) 
  • Low life cycle costs, easy upgradeability, limited maintenance.

A Technology Demonstrator was developed; this included the following tasks:

  • Investigations leading to future Airborne Optical Communication Terminals
  • Definition of an Outer-Aircraft Optical Link Validation System
  • Development of an Airborne Terminal
  • Development of a Ground Station

All the Development Tasks were concluded by flight-tests. These were carried out with an experimental plane of the DLR at the airport in Oberpfaffenhofen, southwest of Munich.

 Aircraft Cabin during Validation Flights
zum Bild Aircraft Cabin during Validation Flights
During the Trials, an optical communication link between the plane and Optical Ground Station Oberpfaffenhofen (OGS) was shown. A high-quality HDTV-Video Stream was transmitted from the aircraft via the optical link.

 HDTV Video Stream
zum Bild HDTV Video Stream










DLR’s Optical Ground Station in Oberpfaffenhofen

The Optical Communications Group inside the Digital Networks Section contributed within all parts of the development process for the Outer-Optical Link Validation System.

The major parts are:

  • Investigations in Advanced Terminal Design, including the development of new Error-Correction concepts.
  • Design of Airborne Terminal
  • Full Development of Optical Ground Station
  • Hosting of Ground-Tests
  • Organization and Hosting of the final In-Flight-Validation

Contact: Dr. Dirk Giggenbach

Ka-band avionic phased-array antennas

Contact: Dr. Achim Dreher


MINERVAA is funded by the sixth framework programme of the European Commission. The Consortium consists of the following Companies and Research Institutes:

Selex Communcations (Prime Contractor) – 
DLR – German Aerospace Center – 
EADS Innovation Works – 
Insis Spa – 
SAGEM Défense Sécurité – 
Technological Educational Institute of Piraeus – 
Thales Communications –


ATENAA Webpage: (Predecessing Project)


Dr.-Ing. Achim Dreher
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Institut für Kommunikation und Navigation
, Navigation
Tel: +49 8153 28-2314

Fax: +49 8153 28-2328

Dr.-Ing. Dirk Giggenbach
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Institut für Kommunikation und Navigation
, Satellitennetze
Tel: +49 8153 28-2821

Fax: +49 8153 28-2844

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