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46 SMT Magazine • November 2014 The aviation industry's requirements re- garding the integrity and service life of safety- relevant components far outweigh those of oth- er industries. Due to its virtually zero potential, an atmospheric pressure plasma process secures not only the adhesion of the conformal coat- ing of SMD-boards in aircraft radio communi- cation, but does so without any damage of the highly sensitive electronic components. According to the International Civil Avia- tion Organization (ICAO) some 3.1 billion pas- sengers made use of the global civilian air trans- port network in 2013 [1] and have thus relied on the quality and reliability of air traffic control systems. The main task of air traffic controllers is to guide aircraft on the ground and in the air by radio to prevent collisions. Passenger safety depends to a large extent on clear communica- tion between air traffic controllers and pilots, and relies on the correct functioning of elec- tronic aircraft radio systems. Crews on long haul flights use shortwave radios to communicate with air traffic control, and to stay in touch with their airlines from anywhere in the world. These devices allow uninterrupted communication even on routes over the poles where satellite networks cannot be used. Rohde & Schwarz, a manufacturer of wireless communications and EMC test and measure- ment equipment, and broadcasting and T&M equipment for digital terrestrial television, also manufactures these airborne radios, which are required to meet the highest safety standards. These high-tech systems are produced by the subsidiary Rohde & Schwarz Messgerätebau GmbH, which is responsible for assembly, final testing and shipping of almost all the compa- ny's products. Barely a single long-haul aircraft in the world lands or takes off without the as- sistance of an XK/FK 516 shortwave radio pro- duced by this specialized Bavarian company. At the core of the FK 516 antenna tuner developed arTiCle by inès a. melamies, blue roNDo iNTerNaTioNal aND tim smith, plaSMaTreaT NorTh aMeriCa Avionics: Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Case Study figure 1: The safety of billions of air travelers depends on uninterrupted radio communication between air traffic controllers and pilots. (photo: rohde & Schwarz)

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