Electrical Connectors in Aircraft

Modern aircraft are replete with electrical systems, for everything ranging from controls and navigation, to interior climate management and lighting. Of course, these systems need connectors to transmit power and data. Electrical connectors can be found in the airframe, control panels, engines, landing gear, cabin, galley applications, and sensors. Ranging from Amphenol high-speed connectors to expanded beam solutions, connectors fulfill numerous vital functions on an aircraft. 


Connectors, contacts, and cable harnesses are vital to the proper operation of modern aircraft. With the next generation of aviation technology including improved navigation, fuel systems, flight and data management, communications, power generation and distribution, and in-flight entertainment, connectors need to be high-speed, high-efficiency, and have high bandwidth capacities. Weight is also a critical concern; because every extra pound an aircraft must carry means more fuel burned during flight, reducing weight can save thousands of dollars over the aircraft’s lifetime. 

More and more aviation designs feature embedded systems that handle navigation, communications, and other critical functions. This has led to reduced weight while increasing transmission rates and bandwidth. The best aviation connectors are both high quality and rugged, while meeting industry specifications and requirements like the Department of Defense’s MIL-SPEC, such as MIL-DTL-38999.

Electrical connectors must be compatible with data transmission protocols being used, and must be resistant to environmental factors like fluids, dust, heat, electromagnetic interference, and corrosion. They must also be able to carry different high-speed protocols, such as USB 2.0 and 3.0, Ethernet, fiber-optics, PCI 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, and HDMI connections. Because cables must be routed through complex paths in the airframe, around corners and through holes, so special abrasion-resistant cable jackets must be used. They must also be non-flammable to prevent the possibility of an electrical fire. 

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