One of our teams is working with on a project that is proposing to introduce an automated aircraft wiring test capability for RAF Tornado aircraft.
Having recently completed a test programme, the team, including Production Operations and Manufacturing and Design Engineering, have successfully demonstrated the benefits a test system could deliver. Using an automated aircraft wiring test system, normally used during new production build, failures can be identified easily and rectified during depth (detailed) maintenance and upgrade programmes.
Modern fighter aircraft, such as Tornado, contain thousands of wires that carry vital information and perform important tasks. With all these electrical wires and connectors there are inevitably wiring failures and insulation breakdowns. These can be caused by a number of factors including operational flying, ageing of the wires, aircraft modification programmes and through maintenance.
These failures can be potentially hazardous but are often difficult to detect through standard maintenance procedures, such as physical inspection.
The team have been testing the automated system on Tornado aircraft ZA612 at Warton. The successful trial has demonstrated that the system meets the stringent standards required for aircraft safety and reliability.
The test system involves applying a harness to the aircraft, as the photograph illustrates. The test sequence checks all wires and connector pins for correct continuity and insulation resistance. The system provides some fascinating facts:
• It takes 3 days to connect the test harness to the aircraft but less than 1 hour to carry out the automatic test
• For a Tornado aircraft there are approximately 1000 individual electrical connections to make to attach it to the test harnesses
• The test involves 24,404 individual check cases
• There are 154 miles of wiring within the test harness
• The harness contains 104 circuits that covers 22 systems
• The automated test set automatically checks over 400 wires per minute