Installation Challenges and Beyond for Smart Circuit Breakers 2003-01-2989
The introduction of advanced Smart Circuit Breaker concepts to commercial and military aircraft, such as incorporating arc fault electronics or ground fault electronics into standard thermal circuit breaker packages, addresses an immediate need in the aviation community. At the same time, it has recently raised awareness of backward compatibility issues, operational impacts, and continued airworthiness needs. From an installation perspective, the most significant difference between standard mechanical devices and Smart Circuit Breakers is the need for power and a ground reference. For discrete applications, issues such as grounding, polarization, and power dissipation appear insignificant. However, as implementation grows beyond a few select systems, these issues, among others, create formidable standardization challenges. Beyond installation, the added complexity of these devices may introduce additional failure modes. This, in turn, creates a need for a continued airworthiness assurance above and beyond that which exists for circuit protection devices of today. All in all, these issues must be thoroughly understood, addressed, and resolved prior to the mass population of existing circuit breaker panels with Smart Circuit Breakers.