All About Aircraft Connectors

Posted on March 19, 2019 James Hinds Aircraft

The first time I saw an aircraft wiring diagram, I was astounded by the intricate design and complexity. No less notable, is the attention that must be paid to the configuration of every component within the wiring system, including electrical connectors. Each aspect of an aircraft, at one time or another, is exposed to sudden changes in temperature, humidity, and pressurization. As such, even aircraft connectors need to meet two crucial parameters—they need to be durable despite multiple stressors, and easy to replace under a time constraint. Original equipment (OEMs) of aircraft employ field replaceable units, carbon composites, and contact retention methods to meet these requirements.

A connector simply refers to a device attached to the end of an electrical cable that allows it to connect and disconnect from other components. Most electronics that are imperative to a successful flight cycle are housed in electrical boxes. A field replaceable unit (FRU) is favored in modern aircraft, as it is easy to replace and upgrade on the flight line, or at a repair station. Degraded boxes can quickly be swapped out for new ones in the event of degradation or damage.

Invariably, within aviation component design, lighter is better— more weight means more fuel, and more fuel means more money. It is no different with aircraft connectors, which is why many are now being made from carbon composites and engineered thermoplastics. These materials are designed with the strength of carbon fibers and lightweight attributes of plastics or resins. They are lighter than the metal connectors that have been used in the past and are designed to be non-flammable and resistant to corrosion.

In order to achieve maximum durability, and to ensure the electrical connectors are as fail-safe a possible, connectors utilize various contact retention methods. This configuration ensures that a cable will not be bumped out of place in turbulence or stress, and that it will not fall out of its connector. Electrical connectors also vary in shape depending on the types of cables involved and the required durability. The contact shape can be circular, rectangular, coaxial, and can act as splices or terminals.

A few examples of contact retention methods are on-interference locks and contact locks. On-interference locks refer to a contact and connector that are housed within a hard, rubber casing. This contact retention method is typically seen in wheel wells, or any connectors that are located on the outside of the airframe. Contact locks are located on the contact itself. They are a locking device that utilizes a spring attachment, which snaps into place when it encounters a ring within the connector.

At ASAP AM Spares, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find aircraft connector manufacturers, and the types of connector you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@asap-amspares.com or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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