Aviation Fiber Optics Ready for Take-Off

Commercial airlines know the importance of passenger safety—and the value of using amenities to build customer loyalty.  A major U.S. airline recently released new cabin interior designs with leather seat covers, seatback pockets for laptops, tray table tablet holders, and A/C charging outlets.  The improvements were based directly on customer feedback.  In addition to legroom, travelers want accessibility to electronic devices—including smartphones, tablets, laptops—and seamless connectivity to business or in-flight entertainment (IFE).

Manufacturers of commercial aircraft are revamping cabin interiors with improved connectivity while delivering value-added benefits to airlines.  For design engineers, that means reducing weight and cost while enhancing safety and the passenger experience.  Fiber optics can give them greater design freedom.  Fiber enables smaller, lightweight components with improved bandwidth and other advantages in networked IFE systems for passengers and in the cabin equipment used by flight crews.

Fiber optic circuitry allows a more centralized network configuration while accommodating economy, business and first-class marketing strategies.  Traditional copper cable assemblies can cause bottlenecks when 300+ passengers attempt to access streaming content.  Data moves more rapidly over a fiber communication backbone, delivering performance of 10 Gbps and up.  That translates into streamlined IFE systems over a future-proof, scalable network.

Data security is an issue for commercial passenger aircraft, and fiber provides a more cyber-resilient architecture than a copper network.  Dielectric and immune to EMI, fiber also offers extremely reliable data transmission and is less susceptible to temperature fluctuations and moisture than copper.

Molex provides cost-effective flex plane fiber optic circuitry for high-density routing on aircraft.  Versatile flex circuitry delivers high fiber count in a substrate designed for card-to-card or shelf-to-shelf routing.  Ribbon fiber, pre-spliced fibers, connector options and field termination simplify installation.

Providing a nearly 50% substrate size reduction compared to standard fiber optic cabling in space-constrained aircraft cabins, Molex 3D-style flex circuitry routes fiber on multiple stacked substrates to achieve a compact routing area.  Flex optical circuitry can be routed point-to-point or in a shuffle for crew equipment—and in a logical, linear pattern for aircraft rows and seats.

Molex fiber optic circuitry offers a “wheels up” option for virtually any routing scheme in aircraft cabin interior designs.  Learn more: www.molex.com/industry/military.html.