Case Study 2011-2013. Research Project AUSTIN


Sponsors: Technology Strategy Board

Project 'AUSTIN' - Aerospace Universal Optical Interrogator

Partners: Smart Fibres Ltd, Airbus Operations Ltd (, Oxsensis Ltd (



Project Brief

The project will address the need for an aerospace 'Universal Interrogator' to permit the interfacing of different types of photonic sensors within a common avionics module.  This will provide data linkage in any optically instrumented aircraft, as the move towards More Electric Aircraft raises the importance of EMI-resistant electrical systems. In addition the increasing use of composite materials results in heightened lightning protection requirements. Optical sensors and networks are EMI immune and can replace existing solutions while providing additional sensing capabilities for improved control and aircraft management.

The highly integrated optical system of AUSTIN will bring different optical sensor types into a single system. It will take known techniques, including Fibre Bragg Gratings, manufactured by Smart Fibres, and Fabry Perot interferometers, manufactured by Oxsensis, and combine them to produce a versatile and configurable 'Universal Interrogator'. Airbus will take the lead role within the project which will be part funded by the grant from the Technology Strategy Board (an executive non-departmental UK Government body) over a 2 year period.


Smart Fibres successfully develop and tested a prototype Universal Interrogator to the requirements set out by the project  scope of works.

A prototype interrogator was successfully manufactured in accordance with the project hardware requirements. The embedded firmware and embedded software were also successfully ported from the breadboard interrogator to the Prototype interrogator. 

The Prototype instrument was tested against a vibration and temperature range specification supplied by Airbus and continued to function within specifications during these tests and afterwards the hardware showed no signs of damage or fatigue.

Main Project benefits for Smart Fibres:

  • Achieved the technical goals of interrogating multiple sensor types.
  • Gained acceptance of our technology with Airbus.
  • Increased the credibility of our business with the wider aerospace industry
  • Gained better understanding of aerospace applications of measurement systems.
  • Gained better understanding of environmental testing requirements for aerospace.
  • Gained capability to design opto-electronic systems to meet the environmental specifications required by aerospace customers.


This project has started a collaboration between Smart Fibres and Airbus. As stated earlier, that collaboration is now continuing with the ASHLEY FP7 project funded by the EC.




Related Products

FBG Interrogator

SmartScan SBI

SmartScan Aero Mini

SmartScan Aero Mini