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What are Disconnects and Why Do Aircraft Have Them?

400x400_WhatAreDisconnects_2018_Q1A question I get asked often is “How many electrical wiring harnesses are in a single F-16?”  The exact number is dependent on when the F-16 was assembled and what country is flying the F-16.  So, what does that have to do with disconnects? It has to do with aircraft maintenance and safety.  The more disconnects within the aircraft, the easier it is to replace the harnesses and equipment inside the aircraft.

An aircraft is broken up into many sections.  It may be composed of the forward section, the aft section, the cockpit, the fuselage, the wings, the landing gear, the engine, etc.  Every section of the plane connects to at least one or more sections. Instead of having holes with wires everywhere, connectors are placed in the firewalls or bulkheads of the aircraft to provide connecting points.  It is similar to electrical plugs and phone plugs in your homes and offices.

At the end of 2015, InterConnect Wiring was asked by a company to get them out of a jam.  They had a contract to deliver 2 aircraft per month to their customer. This company was installing the wiring in the aircraft a single wire at a time.  Working 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, they could wire one aircraft every 6 – 8 weeks. This did not meet their tight schedule. InterConnect sent a team in to design and then build electrical wiring harnesses that allowed them to meet their schedule.

InterConnect designed the wiring harnesses based on the aircraft wiring diagrams and maintenance desires of the customer.  Harnesses were taken from the main components to different firewalls and areas within the aircraft. The customer wanted to be able to perform quick maintenance by pulling out a wiring harness or line replaceable unit (LRU) and swapping it.  Can you imagine the aircraft without any disconnects? Maintenance performed would require the removal of all of the wires in a section or perhaps the entire aircraft. Talk about your maintenance nightmare!

To put it in layman’s terms, it would be like having to replace all the wiring in your house or office whenever your computer or computer cord became defective. That sounds preposterous, but that is what aircraft maintenance would be without disconnects.

By the way, the answer to the question I mentioned at the beginning of this blog is, “On average, there are approximately 300 wiring harnesses in an F-16 aircraft, and InterConnect has the ability to supply each and every one.”

Our Licenses

We are the sole licensee of Lockheed Martin for F-16 electrical products. Through this agreement, we have access to Lockheed Martin’s F-16 engineering data, tooling and configuration control information. We also have a Technical Services agreement with Sikorsky for all of their aircraft. This agreement allows us to obtain their engineering data needed to rewire helicopters that Sikorsky manufactures.

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