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Why Does Each Wire on an Airplane Have Its Own Identification Number?

In brief – to ensure the airworthiness of the aircraft. Any modern aircraft, especially fighters like the F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-35 have thousands of wires. The integrity of the electrical wiring interconnect system (EWIS) affects the ability to gather data, communicate, fire weapons and even control the aircraft in flight.

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Now imagine you’re a technician manufacturing, testing, modifying or repairing part of the electrical system. Being able to identify exactly what wires you need to work on is critical to performing your job and keeping the electrical system in the correct configuration. The way this is accomplished is by giving every wire in the aircraft a unique identifier in the engineering data, maintenance manuals and on each wire itself. Typically the aircraft manufacturer assigns wire numbers to each wire segment during the design of the wiring system. There are variations between manufacturers but most rely on a system similar to that found in AS50881 where the wire ID is composed of several codes that help identify its function. The ID is then applied to the wire itself during wire harness manufacturing. Laser marking the ID is preferable wherever possible. In cases where the wire cannot be laser marked, identification markers are most frequently made from Mil-Spec shrink tubing with a thermal-printed ID.

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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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