Two common question that InterConnect receives are: (1) “How many wiring harnesses are there in an aircraft? and (2) “How many miles of wire are there in an aircraft?” This blog will answer these questions as well as one more question which is “How many breaches are there in the wires of a 20-year-old F-16?” Before these questions are answered, let’s do a quick review of InterConnect’s last two informational blogs. The first blog discusses what a breach is and how many breaches are acceptable in a wire’s insulation. Put simply, a breach in the insulation of a wire is when the insulation no longer covers the conductor. It is an opening in the insulation that goes all the way to the conductor. For any aircraft (including an F-16) there should be no breaches in the insulation of any wire. The second blog discusses why breaches are bad, especially due to potential arc tracking events. This blog even contains an “eye opening” and “fiery” video of a dramatic arc tracking event.
Older F-16s (20+ years old) typically have ~250 wiring harnesses. If you sum all wire lengths in an F-16, there is about 15 miles of wire (this equals 79,200 feet of wire). Over the past 25 years, InterConnect has completely or partially rewired many different military aircraft including F-16’s. Four different times InterConnect has sent the removed ~20-year-old wiring harnesses to a professional test laboratory in Virginia named Lectromec for testing and analysis. As part of the scientific analysis, Lectromec determines how many breeches there are in the removed wiring harnesses. The results of Lectromec analyses are shown in Table 1 below.
InterConnect’s last two blogs explain that any breach is a safety of flight issue. Breaches in the insulation of any wires are bad. Any wire in an aircraft with a breech should be replaced. Based on the results of the previous laboratory studies, breeches existed in all cases. The total number of estimated breaches is scary! Any breech can lead to intermittent problems or fires. Two breeches close to each other can lead to arcing which in-turn can lead to arc tracking. If you have F-16’s in your fleet, you can expect to have around 375 breeches in your wiring. That’s a huge number and a flight safety issue! The only solution to this problem is to replace old wiring harnesses with new ones that have no breaches. Please let us knowfor replacement F-16 wiring harnesses. Remember that InterConnect is the sole licensee for Lockheed Martin (see InterConnect’s licensee blog) for F-16 electrical products including wiring harnesses.
As a bonus to this blog, If you want a copy of Lectromec’s latest laboratory report concerning breeches, download it here.
Finally, stay tuned for InterConnect’s blog next week that lists the most problematic areas for breaches inside an F-16.