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Driving robust cabling in the aerospace and defence sectors

Applying some of the strictest compliance regulations in the world, cable performance is central to enabling reliable power and communications. Heavily focused on the development of industrial aircraft, military tanks, and a range of transport and systems to support national security operations around the world.

The requirement for compact, highly efficient and stealth systems drives the advancement for safe, proven, innovative but most importantly compliance tested cabling infrastructures. Economic priorities differ from country to country, however the need remains much the same. The use of lightweight, smaller and more robust cable components plays a key role in successful delivery.

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Cabling applications

1. Electrical wiring interconnection systems

Referred to as EWIS, these systems encompass any wiring or components installed within an aircraft to generate, distribute, transmit or use electrical energy and data. These aircraft operations heavily depend upon a safe and reliable systems.

In the past, the aerospace sector has experienced mid-air explosions with electrical faults highlighted as the most possible cause, leading to ignition of fuel tanks and serious incidents. Installation-related errors, cabling repairs, corrosion or deterioration caused by high operating temperatures and subsequently premature aging, all represent triggers for electrical faults and failures. Rigorous testing and certification to cable and sector specific standards allows specifiers to evidence long term and environmental performance prior to install.

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2. Heating, ventilation and lighting

On most aerospace and defence units a combustion heater is used to heat the cabin areas. A combustion heater houses an airtight burner chamber that ignites fuel to provide heat and collocated ventilation systems mix fresh and filtered air back into transport systems in order that warm, clean air supplies can be dispersed. Safety in these systems is, therefore, paramount as a glitch or failure can again pose critical risks. The application of cables that have been assessed for both fire and chemical resistance offers additional protection to safeguarding operations further.

Emergency systems need to be able to offer continued circuit integrity to enable navigation to safety. These systems may include any number of cooling, defogging, sprinkler or smoke and toxic fumes controls. In addition to functions that support temperature, visibility, extinguishing or extraction, lighting both internal and external must operate as planned in normal and emergency scenarios. The reliability of cabling that is able to support these vital functions or power covert infrared systems is a necessity to the aerospace and defence sector.

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3. Communications and data

Navigation and communications systems seemingly work without any visible cabling. Hidden within the aircraft walls communications cables transfer data within and external to aerospace and defence operations. Manufacturers continue with the goal of making the most lightweight, compact, cost efficient cabling options offering precision and leaving little room for error.

Take-off and landing, exposure to extreme temperatures or rough environmental impacts require cabling to be specified to higher grades of quality, durability and stability than cables that are destined for commercial applications. Equally important, the demand for efficient, secure data transmission within the sector, enabling safe and swift transfer is key. Approved communications and data cabling are, not only, independently tested for transmission and interference, they are also tested for mechanical, ingress, climate and electromagnetic performance specific to heavy industrial applications. situations.

Passenger, crew and equipment safety is vital on any aerospace and defence vehicle. Any system failures, particularly electrical cable malfunctions can have extreme consequences.

Stringent application and compliance to the regulatory requirements and specialist sector needs is key to safe, reliable and efficient operations. Robust cable assessments prior to install facilitate the evidencing of ongoing performance levels and cable quality.

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