Avionics – When Lightening Strikes!

Avionics – When Lightening Strikes!

When Lightening Strikes!

When an international avionics manufacturer found itself faced with a problem that could have resulted in catastrophic issues for one of the World’s most iconic aircraft, it took a small British company to help save the day.

Paul Lawrence, Managing Director of Kent Based AEF Solutions, specialists in the design and manufacture of interconnection solutions, explains how the company managed the Herculean task and how the organisation’s expertise and design capability help it to fly the flag for British innovation.

The recession definitely left its mark on UK manufacturing, 10 years on, and the knock on effect is arguably still being felt by some sectors.  However, despite a period of turbulence the electronics industry is still very much alive and kicking in the UK, and the demand for British manufactured products is now as strong as it has ever been.

Companies are looking to take advantage of Britain’s reputation for excellence and quality. This is complemented by an ability to create shorter, more responsive supply chains and the ease of communication with customers that being in the UK brings.

Many organisations are proud to say that their products are manufactured in the UK because of the long-standing association that British manufacturing has with quality, reliability and excellence.

With the rapid advancements in technology we often think of high-volume manufacturing, but there are many industries such as avionics where lower volume specialist, intricate, reliable technology is mission critical.

AEF is at the forefront of British innovation and provides expert design and manufacturing of filtered connector solutions for electromagnetic compatibility and transient voltage suppression including lightening protection, amongst its wide capability offering.

One example, which perfectly demonstrates the need for high quality and reliable technology, is the Mil-Aero sector.

AEF provides an international avionics equipment manufacturer with a purpose designed upgraded connector for C-130 aircraft offering lightening protection to Level 4, waveform 4 of DO160-F.

The manufacturer was providing a ‘glass-cockpit’ instrument panel upgrade for the aircraft and approached AEF when it discovered that there was a long-term design issue with the black box upgrade. The box was qualified to Level 3, Waveform 4 and couldn’t be modified. However, it needed the vital connector plugs to provide Level 4 lightening protection and approached AEF for help.

AEF reviewed the complex design spec and set to work on a solution.

The team looked at the ergonomics of the black box and its spatial properties and devised a solution that would solve the problem.  Through a redesign process the company quickly came up with some preliminary designs for a modified bespoke connector that would offer protection at the required level.

A prototype was developed and AEF began testing at its UK facilities.  When it was satisfied with the solution the test model was handed over to the manufacturer for flight-testing.   Following a robust period of scrutiny the new bespoke multi pin Arinc 404 plug connector was given approval to replace the existing plug connector in the aircraft.

AEF’s knowledge and expertise meant that the new connector could be quickly installed in situ and negated the need for any new aircraft wiring or modifications to the black box or mounting system.

The manufacturer is now offering the British designed and manufactured product, as part of their Installation, to Air Forces around the world as they look to upgrade their fleets.

With extensive experience within the connector industry, AEF provides customers with a flexible, personal service that delivers the highest attention to detail.  Its complete electronic solutions have been proven to be vital in applications such as the C-130, Eurofighter, Airbus 380 as well as a range of other sectors including Industrial, Telecom and Datacom.

Call 01227 711455 for further information.


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Group Overview

AEI Group is a leading UK provider of Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS), bespoke Filtered Connectors and world beating OEM solutions to the Building Controls, Automation and HVAC market. Our extensive range of Manufacturing services and OEM solutions are delivered through our group of companies: Esprit Electronics, Icon Electronics, PCB Partners, AEF Solutions & Open System Solutions (OSS).