What Are Fibre Optic Cables Used For In The Aerospace Industry?

aerospace cables

What Are Fibre Optic Cables Used For In The Aerospace Industry?

What Are Fibre Optic Cables Used For In The Aerospace Industry? 1024 762 Davinder Lotay

Fibre optic cables have a revolutionary design, making them a pivotal component within industries where high performance, security, and reliability are paramount. 

In particular, the unique characteristics of optical fibre cables make them ideal for aerospace applications.

They are instrumental in sustaining reliable, high-speed data connections for mission-critical communication, navigation, and surveillance systems.  

But before we delve further into how this cable type enhances applications within the aerospace industry, let’s explain more about how they work. 

Fibre optic cables are composed of ultra-thin pure glass or plastic strands no thicker than a human hair! These strands transmit data via light, which travels down the fibre’s core. 

Transponders at either end of the cable convert the data into light, enabling it to travel before transforming it back into data.

Each fibre consists of internal cladding, which bounces the light inwards, preventing signal loss – we’ll expand on this crucial element later in the blog!

Ultimately, the makeup of fibre optic cables allows for higher performance levels compared to copper cables, a critical factor as technology demands evolve. 

Why Are Fibre Optic Cables Important For The Aerospace Industry?

aerospace industry cables

As mentioned, fibre optic cables benefit numerous businesses; however, this future-proof solution is advantageous for the aerospace industry. 

Fibre optics assist with diverse aerospace applications. For example, they establish rapid and secure communication links within an aircraft or satellites, and between terrestrial stations. 

Moreover, they function as adept sensors, gauging essential physical metrics like temperature and strain. 

Aerospace cables need to be able to withstand all environments. This is why fibre optic cables are tested in harsh conditions, i.e. environments consisting of extreme temperatures, vibrations, abrasions, high to low pressures, and radiation exposure.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Fibre Optic Cables For Aerospace?

Lower Cost

The advancements in fibre optic tech have brought about cost-effective aerospace solutions. 

Fibre optic cables are more expensive to install than copper cables; however, fibre costs less to maintain, so in the long run, users experience significantly reduced maintenance and operational expenses in comparison to copper.

Less Weight

The glass construction of fibre optic cables makes them a much more lightweight solution than copper cables. They typically weigh just four pounds per 1,000 feet.

Weight reduction in aerospace applications is essential to enhance fuel efficiency and overall aircraft performance. Simply put, a lower mass requires less lift force and thrust, keeping the aerospace industry commercially viable.

Thinner Diameter

The compact and thin profile of fibre optic cables means they are easier to install and route within confined aircraft and aerospace equipment spaces.

Furthermore, since fibre optic cables take up little room, this maximises storage space for passengers, belongings, and essential equipment.

Wider Bandwidth

Fibre optic cables offer broader bandwidth capabilities, enabling high-speed data transmission for aerospace applications.

Data that travels at the speed of light is vital for supporting complex systems and data-intensive operations.

Lower Signal Loss

As mentioned, fibre optic cables experience minimal signal loss. 

The lower signal loss (attenuation) of fibre optic cables allows longer transmission distances and more reliable communication in aerospace environments.

This is a dramatic advantage over copper cables since they experience a signal loss that increases over distance. 

Longer Life Span

Fibre optic cables are extremely durable. 

Because they are made from strong glass or plastic, this makes optical fibre cables highly resistant to weather and other external sources that can typically cause damage.

The durability and resilience of fibre optic cables mean they have a longer operational life than traditional cables, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Greater Security

Fibre optic cables are immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), which means they are not affected by electronic noise in the environment. 

Their immunity to EMI also makes it more difficult for outside sources to tap into, helping to ensure data integrity and confidentiality.

What Aerospace Applications Are Fibre Optic Cables Used For?

flight control systems

Data Transmission

As mentioned, fibre optic cables facilitate rapid data exchange between different elements, such as aircraft systems, ground control centres, and other aircraft. 

Efficient data transfer enables real-time communication, allowing swift decision-making and coordination between these elements.

Flight Control Systems

The rapid data exchange of fibre optic cables is also pivotal in flight control systems, ensuring dependable and instantaneous communication that facilitates precise control and navigation.

For example, fibre optic cables allow accurate and timely data transfers that enable safe navigation, collision avoidance, and traffic management in congested airspace. 

This high-level management ensures that pilots and air traffic controllers have up-to-date information for making informed decisions.

Military Airspace Applications

The aerospace industry leverages fibre optic cables in military and defence applications, supporting secure and resilient communication for tactical operations.

For example, the military can use optical fibre cables for surveillance and reconnaissance because of the high-resolution images and videos that fibres enable. Also, they can retrieve sensor data from drones, aircraft, and satellites.

In-flight Entertainment Systems

Many airlines use fibre optic cables as aeroplane cables to support modern in-flight entertainment systems, delivering high-quality multimedia content to passengers.

Additionally, airlines use optical fibre cables to enable internet access, high-speed networking, and for their cabin display systems.

To summarise, fibre optic cables reduce weight and cost while increasing applications’ security, performance, and overall longevity. These factors are crucial within the aerospace industry since they support the advancement of technology, enabling travel, exploration, and discoveries.

If you would like expert advice regarding aerospace fibre optic cables, contact Altimex today. By choosing a high-quality aerospace cable manufacturer, you ensure optimum results.