Fiber Optic Systems for Avionics Illumination 2012-01-2127
Fiber optics has been a viable technology for data communication applications in many environments including aircrafts, providing higher bandwidth, longer transmission distances, EMI/RFI immunity, and lower weight than copper cables. Until recently however fiber optics was not a viable transmission medium to efficiently distribute light for illumination on aircrafts.
Fiber optic lighting systems, referred to as the Remote Source Lighting technology have been installed on US Navy vessels including the LPD 17 class, the Italian Multi-Mission Frigate FREMM class, and the DDG 1000 class. Optical fibers can offer advantages over conventional lighting systems that use copper cables due to safety, lower maintenance, EMI/RFI immunity, no possibility of short circuits or sparks, lightweight, and low operating costs. Higher procurement costs, primarily driven by the 37 fibers optical cable, have prevented a broader usage on naval vessels and for other applications including aircrafts.
Systems utilizing visible Lasers as light sources are being developed under a number of US Navy sponsored programs, enabling the use of single fiber cables to transport light. This critical transition to a laser system capable to couple more light into a single fiber can drastically change the way lighting systems are designed on aircrafts. The single fiber cable will provide significant benefits including 70% lighter weight than copper cables, 80% lower cost than the existing Navy cables, immunity to EMI/RFI, and the possibility to adapt fiber optic components and procedures developed for fiber data transmission applications, such as switches, connectors, installation procedures, and methods to illumination applications.