Optical Fiber Networks Take Off in Commercial Aviation

Posted by Paul Jortberg on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A modern passenger jet has enormous amounts of data flowing through it to support the latest technologies in the cockpit and the passenger cabin. All that data has to be delivered at lightning speed, and that’s why aircraft manufacturers and airlines are turning to optical fiber.

Optical fiber is being deployed on commercial aircraft for the same reason it was first adopted in the telecom world: its ability to transmit much more information in less time over longer distances than traditional copper wire. In addition to a huge bandwidth advantage, it’s also lighter, uses less power and is immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI). In short, it’s the new generation of data transmission technology, with capabilities that copper wiring in use since the DC3 era cannot match.

How Optical Fiber Is Used Today

Today the relentless growth of bandwidth-hungry applications is driving increased use of optical fiber networks, both in the passenger cabin and on the flight deck.

  • In the cockpit, optical networks are being used to support a new generation of sophisticated avionics.

    Current applications range from the electronic flight bags (EFBs) used by pilots to enhanced vision systems and video-rich flight deck displays.
  • In the passenger cabin, optical fiber networks provide high bandwidth for the latest inflight entertainment (IFE) offerings that passengers want and expect. 

    These include on-demand movies and TV, high-speed internet access, games, shopping, etc. The ability to seamlessly meet the needs of hundreds of passengers, each with their own desires and preferences, means a competitive edge for the airline as well as revenue-generating services.

Preparing for Tomorrow – The Future-Proof Cabling Infrastructure

Fiber optic networks are already built into new aircraft models including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787. Many older commercial aircraft will need wire and cable upgrades for today’s and tomorrow’s high-bandwidth requirements. IFE is the most common starting point since it is airline-specific, with more flexibility for upgrading existing systems. Backbone networks to support new and future avionics solutions is another area where optical fiber is starting to replace copper.

The trend is just getting started, driven by the ongoing demand for wiring that’s smaller, lighter and with a level of performance that legacy copper wiring cannot match. As bandwidth demands in commercial aircraft continue to soar, look for the use of optical fiber to accelerate, both in the passenger cabin and on the flight deck.

Considering a Fiber Solution? Let’s Talk

If you’re considering an optical fiber solution for yourIFE or avionics package, discover howkSARIA can make it work for you. We provide state-of-the-art fiber optical cable assemblies for commercial aircraft applications, meeting your requirements for high-bandwidth, strength, weight, and harsh environments. Solutions cover all aspects of fiber optic connectivity, from design to assembly, fabrication, installation and logistics management.


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Tags: Optical Fiber Networks, Commerical Aircraft