Technical Solution for Mitigating Radio-Frequency (RF) Interference to Air Traffic Control Communications

Report No. ARL-TR-6596
Authors: Robert L. Atkinson
Date/Pages: September 2013; 24 pages
Abstract: This effort focuses on the unintentional disruption to air traffic control communications during Continuous Wave Immersion (CWI) testing on Satellite Communications (SATCOM) terminals in mid-November 2012; the source of the interference was identified as the fiber-optic data system being used by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) team. Under "stand-by" conditions, a radio frequency (RF) system could generate and amplify broadband white noise. This broadband radiation interfered with communications between the air control tower and aircraft. The fiber-optic data systems in use by ARL possess the high technical qualities needed for the CWI measurements. Further, such systems are used throughout the Government and by its contractors in various testing configurations. Because of this, a technical "fix" (or fixes) was desirable to eliminate any future, similar occurrences. This report identifies the initial details that led to this effort, as well as the process pursued by ARL to technically resolve the white noise interference problem. The technical details underlying the problem are presented, as are the potential solutions that were considered. Finally, a technical solution, which represents the lowest-risk approach, was chosen and is described, in detail, within this report.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2013