Aircraft to Aircraft Connectivity Analysis
Abstract: It is very common to feel the need to be connected, especially in cases where we are idle, such as in airplanes. Aircraft connectivity has already been implemented by using direct air-to-ground communication and satellite communication. However, since the current solutions are not satisfying, more ways to provide connectivity to aircraft are being researched. One solution is to use aircraft as relay nodes and forward signals to aircraft which are out of range of the ground base stations, creating an ad-hoc network.This thesis aims in evaluating the performance of such networks over the North Atlantic ocean in terms of connectivity and achievable data rate by means of simulations. First, an aircraft mobility model is created by analyzing past flight data. Then, the topology of the network is created with the purpose of maximizing the number of connected aircraft and minimizing interference. Finally, the available bandwidth is allocated to all connected aircraft in a maxmin way. The simulations were repeated to evaluate the impact of: threshold in data rates to assume connectivity, maximum number of connections per aircraft, maximum antenna steering angle, beamwidth and bandwidth.Our results show that aircraft to aircraft connectivity is feasible if all airlines cooperate, and more than 80% of the aircraft can find a path to a base station, when the aircraft density is higher than 1 aircraft per approximately 150000 km2, which is 88% of a 24 hours period. The median data rate of the connected aircraft, achieved in the middle of the ocean is limited to 25 Mbps with a 20MHz bandwidth, which is not high enough to provide access to demanding applications, such as video streaming. Increasing the bandwidth to 200 MHz can increase the data rate to more than 184 Mbps, for 50% of the connected aircraft, which surpasses the performance of current satellite communication systems.
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