Harsh environment avionics applications require operating temperature ranges that can extend to, and exceed -50 to
115°C. For obvious maintenance, management and cost arguments, product lifetimes as long as 20 years are also sought.
This leads to mandatory long-term hermeticity that cannot be obtained with epoxy or silicone sealing; but only with
glass seal or metal solder or brazing. A hermetic design can indirectly result in the required RF shielding of the
component. For fiber-optics products, these specifications need to be compatible with the smallest possible size, weight
and power consumption. The products also need to offer the best possible high-speed performances added to the known
EMI immunity in the transmission lines.
Fiber-optics transceivers with data rates per fiber channel up to 10Gbps are now starting to be offered on the market for
avionics applications. Some of them are being developed by companies involved in the "normal environment"
telecommunications market that are trying to ruggedize their products packaging in order to diversify their customer
base. Another approach, for which we will present detailed results, is to go back to the drawing boards and design a new
product that is adapted to proven MIL-PRF-38534 high-reliability packaging assembly methods. These methods will
lead to the introduction of additional requirements at the components level; such as long-term high-temperature
resistance for the fiber-optic cables. We will compare both approaches and demonstrate the latter, associated with the
redesign, is the preferable one.
The performance of the fiber-optic transceiver we have developed, in terms of qualification tests such as temperature
cycling, constant acceleration, hermeticity, residual gaz analysis, operation under random vibration and mechanical
shocks and accelerated lifetime tests will be presented. The tests are still under way, but so far, we have observed no
performance degradation of such a product after more than 1050 hours of operation at 95°C.