Aerospace

Cable design challenges for the connected aircraft

11 March 2021

Figure 1: The Angelus Corporation offers everything needed to transform an aircraft into an elegantly connected system. Source: Adobe StockFigure 1: The Angelus Corporation offers everything needed to transform an aircraft into an elegantly connected system. Source: Adobe Stock

When the Wright brothers made their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903, their aircraft featured “electronics” comparable to a gas-powered lawnmower. With the advent of the transistor in 1947 and the subsequent evolution of this technology to make it small enough that entire computing systems could be installed in lightweight airframes, the “connected aircraft” began to emerge.

Today, this technology — zipping countless 1s and 0s around the fuselage — applies not only to the cockpit crew to assist in a safe and smooth flight, but also to the passenger section, and even maintenance. Passengers expect on-demand entertainment, journey updates via interactive satellite-driven maps and even internet connectivity if they so choose. When on the ground, this connectivity assists maintenance crew with monitoring operations for ever more expedient preventive and predictive maintenance.

While one might not consider the extent of what is happening when choosing from a selection of in-flight movies, or even when the pilot engages the autopilot, the amount of coordination between systems in these flying cylinders is stunning. Multiply one movie or trivia game by potentially hundreds of passengers, and it is hard to believe that such a feat is possible whatsoever.

Cable solutions

With onboard computing, sensors and radiofrequency (RF) communication capabilities spread throughout an aircraft, the need for the proper physical cables to transmit data is paramount. Such cables must be physically robust enough to endure the rigors of installation and usage, with the important caveat that weight is critical to fuel economy as this web extends throughout the plane.

Whether for new builds or when retrofitting airframes to their next iteration, the Angelus Corporation — which includes PIC Wire & Cable as well as CertifyNation divisions — can help integrate connected aircraft technologies. They offer a variety of products and services to assist in the design, installation and certification of any aircraft and system.

PIC Wire & Cable offers the following products, as well as a wide range of other components:

  • 50 Ohm lightweight, highly shielded coaxial cable for general use and high frequency coaxial cable assemblies for antenna applications up to 26 GHz.
  • 75 Ohm low loss cables for video applications, such as in-seat and cockpit displays.
  • A wide variety of one, two and four pair CAT 5e, CAT 6a and CAT 7 Ethernet cables with various shielding and jacketing options for different flexibility and shielding requirements.
  • Coaxial, triaxial and data connectors.
  • Coaxial cable assemblies tested for loss, voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) and phase-matching, which come with a certified test report. TIA-568-C Channel testing is performed on all Ethernet assemblies.

An excellent example of PIC Wire & Cable’s offerings is 50 Ohm RFMATES ULTRALITE coaxial cable, which can provide weight savings of up to 80% over existing installations. PIC offers a variety of solutions, including other RFMATES options; VideoMATES, coaxial and triaxial cables for video transmission; DataMATES, Ethernet and digital video cables; and MicroMATES, high frequency cables.

Aerospace engineering and certification services

Along with physical cable offerings, the CertifyNation division, an aerospace engineering services and certification group, is dedicated to assisting customers navigate the complex aircraft certification process for aircraft modifications. With CertifyNation’s background in supplemental type certificates (STCs) development, they can support aircraft manufacturing needs from design, engineering, drawing packages and substantiation reports, to parts manufacturing approval (PMA). Each project is tailored to an aircraft’s needs and requirements.

CertifyNation’s extensive STC experience and FAA Part 21 (PMA) authority gives PIC Wire & Cable the ability to help get an aircraft’s connected system designed, certified, and installed quickly and efficiently.

Angelus: For all connected aircraft needs

Between the PIC Wire & Cable and CertifyNation divisions, the Angelus Corporation offers everything needed to transform an aircraft or aircraft design into an elegantly connected system, fit for usage well into the 21st century. Their mission is to provide solutions that meet the rigorous demands of the aerospace and defense markets while making their customers’ jobs easier. Contact the Angelus Corporation today at www.theangeluscorp.com, or by calling 800-742-3191.



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