Smart connector system uses distributed sensor interrogation and analysis to improve electrical fault finding and reduce aircraft downtime.
The SmartCo smart connector system from Nicomatic brings in-built intelligence to aircraft electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS) and reduces aircraft downtime by solving the problem of fault-finding in aircraft electrical cable runs.
The EWIS is the backbone of complex systems in modern aircraft and is subject to the same harsh environmental and operational conditions as other aircraft systems. Detecting and tracing faults in aircraft electrical cable runs is time-consuming, frustrating, costly, and the cause of disruption to flight schedules.
Nicomatic and the CEA LIST Institute collaborated to jointly develop Orthogonal Multi-tone Time Domain Reflectometry (OMTDR) technology that enables network analysis and sensor intelligence to be distributed in the EWIS without impacting network traffic. Distributed analysis enables complex networks to be analysed, solving the problem of fault ambiguity as diagnosis information from several sensors can be aggregated. Integrating OMTDR into an aircraft wiring harness by embedding it into SmartCo aerospace connectors adds an “always on” distributed wire diagnosis and sensor communication system in real time to the EWIS.
Nicomatic and the ECA Group have also integrated OMTDR into a portable all-in-one electrical troubleshooting test tool, the Electrical Ground Support Equipment (E-GSE) TC50 e-tool. The TC-50 is a multi-function tool in a case that simplifies wire troubleshooting and testing. Validated on most popular aeronautic cable types, it plugs into a wire network and measures voltage/current/resistance, checks phase order, tests diodes, tests insulation and thermal imaging. The TC-50’s user interface is web-enabled for access on the included rugged smartphone or any mobile device.
Using the TC-50 with Nicomatic’s SmartCo reflectometry technology provides precise wire-fault localisation, enabling quick diagnosis and thereby minimising aircraft ground time. The Wire Fault Localisation feature enables the detection and localisation of faults such as open- and short-circuits and the measurement of impedance variations with an accuracy of 0.1% across a cable length of 1m to 100m.
Phil McDavitt, Managing Director, Nicomatic Ltd. comments: “SmartCo connectors bring in-built intelligence and capability to commercial aerospace connectors, and together with the TC50-eTool, deliver an off-the-shelf tool for all generic electrical tasks for maintenance, repair, overhaul, diagnosis and troubleshooting of electrical systems and equipment in aircraft.”