top of page

Flight Testing Of A Single Point Frequency Sweeping Filtered Rayleigh Scattering Probe

Michael Fischer, Guido Stockhausen, Eike Jens Burow, Manfred Beversdorff, Alena Chacin Krist, Torsten Kemmerling, Christian Willert

Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China


We present a successful in-flight application of filtered Rayleigh scattering (FRS) for temperature measurement in close proximity to the air plane using a newly developed single point, frequency sweeping probe. The temperature measurement is of relevance in the quantification of the density required for the evaluation of velocity from Pitot-probe measurements to obtain the true air speed (TAS). Laser optical air data sensors have the potential for contactless measurements outside the aerodynamic boundary layer. They are capable of self-diagnosis of fault conditions (e.g. signal loss, increased measurement uncertainty or spectral distortion for FRS) thereby increasing the safety of the aircraft. Compared to classical probes, they are less susceptible potential icing and blockage issues. The FRS-results presented here, are the outcome of two separate flight campaigns, carried out in the Alpine region as well as in the North Sea area. Measurement data provided information on the functionality of the FRS-system under various flight and weather conditions. Furthermore, the implementation of the FRS measurement system in the aircraft is presented; application aspects and improvements are discussed. In particular, the measurement accuracy at the actually achievable measurement rate was analyzed. For straight ahead flights at constant height, temperature mean values were in good agreement with the flight data system of the DLR research aircraft Dassault Falcon 20 (D-CMET). Aiming at in-flight air data measurements, the optical FRS measurement system requires a real-time temperature sample rate of a few Hz. We demonstrate that 2 FRS spectra per second can be acquired by a newly developed method using frequency sweeps for temperature determination. The low signal intensity of cw-laser based FRS is countered using a combined transmitter/receiver optic that focusses the entire cw-laser power into one measuring point. The light backscattered from the probe volume is collected by the same optics, filtered and imaged in a confocal arrangement onto a photomultiplier. An improved and miniaturized version of the presented FRS system could be a part of a future optical air data system (OADS). However, the strength of FRS signal relative to bright ambient conditions (e.g. sunlight, cloud backscatter) must be further improved in order to be able to measure well above cloud cover. The potential for further development is foreseen even if the accuracy required for flight data systems (~0.5 K) has not yet been achieved at a temperature measurement rate of 2 Hz.

bottom of page