Case Study: Future Optical Network Distribution for Aerospace

The FONDA program was a partnership between leading aerospace suppliers to develop and demonstrate the next generation of fiber optic data communication networks to be integrated into future aerospace and defense products.

A portion of the FONDA program was dedicated to the demonstration of an avionic fiber optic cable with the following attributes:

  • Low attenuation over operating temperatures of -55° C to 125° C
  • High strength and flexibility
  • Low weight and small outer diameter, compatible with commercial termini
  • Compliance to smoke/toxicity requirements
  • Easy to handle and terminate

Components were provided by W. L. Gore & Associates (fiber optic cable), Deutsch UK (fiber optic connectors), and D-Lightsys (optical transceivers). BAE Systems provided system integration.

An optical fiber with a recently developed high temperature acrylate primary buffer was selected.   Gore contributed a cable design based on our proven ePTFE buffering for exceptional low-temperature performance.  A thermoplastic sheath protected the fiber to provide robustness to airframe routing and minimization of CTE mismatch.

Extreme Routing Panel: Head-to-Head Cable Testing Enlarge

Extreme Routing

  • Cable ties
  • Decreasing radius of curvature  wraps
  • Slot weave
  • Knotted bends
  • Hard edge loading

According to system integrator BAE Systems, in head-to-head cable testing, the Gore aerospace cable construction has many advantages*:

  • The fiber is isolated from temperature changes
  • The Gore cable required the most force to produce attenuations up to 3 dB levels.  Hard edge loading properties were good.
  • The Gore 1.8 mm OD cables look promising

* “Evaluation of Next Generation Avionic Fibre Optic Cables”, G.M Proudley, H.J. White and N.B. Aldridge, BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre presented at 2006 IEEE Avionics, Fiber-Optics and Photonics Technology Conference