Get our free email newsletter

Military and Aerospace EMC: What is the RTCA?

Greetings. I am Patrick André, an independent EMC consultant in the Pacific Northwest. Having spent my career in EMC design, testing, and troubleshooting, mainly in the aerospace and military industries, I have had a chance to answer many questions. In this blog, I’ll address some of those questions and share some unique aspects of EMC in the military and aerospace field. Let me know if there is a specific aspect of this field you would like to see covered. Let’s begin.

One question I have heard is, ‘What is the RTCA?’ In the EMC field, most people know the RTCA as the group that creates the aeronautic environmental standard DO-160. However, beyond establishing tests and test levels for environmental testing of avionics, the RTCA’s work reaches far beyond DO-160.

The Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, now known as RTCA, was established in 1935 with a focus on the standardization and assurance of safety of radio communication and radar systems. This led to other developments, such as a common system for air traffic controllers across the United States. The work is not specifically performed by the RTCA but rather by groups and committees of industry experts and specialists in a specific field. In doing so, industry has a direct say in how standards are established while recognizing that the quality of these standards must be maintained at a high level.

- Partner Content -

How to Perform a Radiated Emissions Measurement

Radiated emissions testing is the measurement of the electromagnetic field of the emissions that are unintentionally being generated by the equipment under test.

The RTCA is a private, not-for-profit organization and not an agency of the US Government. The organization covers the hardware and software used for flight control and navigation, collision avoidance, audio systems, night vision systems, flight deck displays, weather detection, among other areas. For example, portable electronics used by passengers and flight crew must also be researched and regulated for safe use on commercial aircraft and to ensure that avionics are not affected.

The RTCA has members from over 460 commercial aerospace companies and other interested corporations and groups. The standards, operational situations, architectures, and other documents that are within RTCA’s control are in the form of Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards (MASPS), Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS), Safety & Performance Requirements (SPR), Interoperability Requirements (INTEROP) and other publications. There are about 500 documents currently available from the RTCA, with many available in either hard copy or electronic format.

The RTCA works with the FAA in the United States and with EUROCAE – The European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment. EUROCAE and the RTCA often work in cooperation with each other to create common standards and regulations. For example, DO-160 in the United States has a EUROCAE counterpart, ED-14, which both groups have agreed to in totality.

Committee meetings are typically open to the public. However, voting and suggestions for changes are allowed only by members of the RTCA. However, input from all aspects of the aerospace industry is welcomed.

The website for the RTCA is available here.

- From Our Sponsors -

Next month, we will look at DO-160 specifically, its development, and the upcoming revision.

Related Articles

Digital Sponsors

Become a Sponsor

Discover new products, review technical whitepapers, read the latest compliance news, trending engineering news, and weekly recall alerts.

Get our email updates

What's New

- From Our Sponsors -

Sign up for the In Compliance Email Newsletter

Discover new products, review technical whitepapers, read the latest compliance news, trending engineering news, and weekly recall alerts.