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Is There A Difference Between Defense and Commercial Aviation Wiring Harnesses?

Yesterday I took my son to Lone Star Park to see some horseracing. He asked me if there was a difference between the gray horses and the brown horses besides color because his uncle told him that gray horses were terrible. I told him that horses are basically the same and that brown horses are no better than gray horses. After having that discussion with him, it made me think about wiring harnesses. 

Is there a difference between defense and commercial aviation wiring harnesses? To put it simply, a wiring harness is a group of wires bundled together.  A wiring harness can be very small in size such as a small group of wires found in your computer or car.  A wiring harness can also be very huge such as some of the ones that InterConnect manufactures for aircraft.  These huge wiring harnesses may have thousands of wires in them and hundreds of connectors.  The finished wiring harness may weigh over 100 pounds and cost over $50,000. Wiring harnesses have many different names including electrical wiring harnesses, looms, cable assemblies, coax cables, RF cables, injection-molded cable assemblies, fiber optic cables, but many times are simply called harnesses.

Wiring harnesses are important for aircraft because they can be installed as one unit instead of one wire at a time.  It is much easier to build them on a table in a production area such as InterConnect Wiring’s production area as opposed to putting in wires one at a time in an aircraft and then connecting each wire to a connector or terminal or a splice.  It is much easier and faster to route a group of wires already bundled together than routing them individually.

Now back to the question at hand. No, there is basically not much difference in military and commercial aircraft wiring harnesses. They are essentially the same. They all use wire, contacts, connectors, some type of cover or way to bundle them together and are all tested for continuity and insulation resistance. The main difference between defense and commercial aviation electrical wiring harnesses is how they are “bought off” by Quality. Whereas Defense Contract Management Agency performs the ultimate buy off for defense/military products, quality inspection by DCMA is not required for the commercial customer. Rather, the Federal Aviation Administration oversees that activity. Did you know that as part of FAA and aviation industry Quality System Audit (QSA) continuous improvement efforts, the FAA requests companies to provide feedback on how they are doing when they audit you? Here is the form to use. 

One final thing… after my son told me Uncle Johnny didn’t ever bet on gray horses, I bet on one in the very next race. Yep. The gray horse won. Winner! Fun Fact: Eight (8) gray horses have won the Kentucky Derby.


P.S. If you want to be a winner when it comes to wiring harnesses, for defense or commercial, contact InterConnect Wiring at 817.377.WIRE [9473] or click here. In the message section, let me know if you would ever bet on a gray horse. 😊 

Our License

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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