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4 Steps to Improving Test and Qualification of Interface Cables in Aerospace Applications

4 Steps to Improving Test and Qualification of Interface Cables in Aerospace Applications

Testing and qualification of systems with an electrical interface for aerospace and defence applications is a complex and very expensive procedure that requires careful planning. Unfortunately, many manufacturers often do not consider the test interface cables in sufficient detail until very late in the programme and this can lead to poor definition, alternative and sometimes inferior materials having to be used due to lead-time issues and even missed or delayed test deadlines.

Whilst it is not always possible to forecast every eventuality that can arise in systems testing scenarios, you can significantly minimise the risk for encountering issues such as those mentioned above by taking the following steps into consideration when planning test and qualification requirements.

Step 1: Define the test/qualification requirements for the equipment.

This may include vibration, waterproofness, fluid susceptibility, shock, temperature cycling, plus all the required EMC/RFI, electrical load, flash testing etc. The test harness should be considered as part of the equipment on test and must equal or exceed the performance of the actual interconnection system that will be used in service.

Step 2: Consider what the test harness will be subjected to within the test environment.

For example if vibration testing of a unit is required then the test harness must replicate the actual installation, using the same materials and physical fixings etc.

Step 3: Consider the test harness materials.

Are they standard off-the-shelf parts? Special materials, connectors with non-preferred planforms or special wires may be used in production when lead times of 16 weeks and high volumes can be scheduled; but trying to source a single mating connector and small amounts of wire in a short time frame may be difficult.

Step 4: Consider the test harness usage.

Is the harness going to be sacrificial, used for one test and then discarded or be required to provide repeated procedures? If several tests are required then multiple test harnesses may be needed. Furthermore, if a product is going through a series of tests it may be prudent to have spare harnesses or spare parts to repair any damage or degradation caused during the test procedure.

Tekdata Interconnections AS9100C scope includes design, manufacture, test, and qualify. This enables us to provide assistance with test/qualification requirements; utilising our many years of experience in providing solutions for test programmes in space applications and also in programmes for civil aerospace and defence.

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Article first published : 8/8/2014

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