Fiber optic systems are used frequently in military, aerospace and commercial aviation programs. There is a long
history of implementing fiber optic data transfer for aircraft control, for harsh environment use in local area networks and
more recently for in-flight entertainment systems. The advantages of fiber optics include high data rate capacity, low
weight, immunity to EMI/RFI, and security from signal tapping. Technicians must be trained particularly to install and
maintain fiber systems, but it is not necessarily more difficult than wire systems.
However, the testing of the fiber optic interconnection system must be conducted in a standardized manner to
assure proper performance. Testing can be conducted with slight differences in the set-up and procedure that produce
significantly different test results.
This paper reviews various options of interconnect configurations and discusses how these options can affect the
performance, maintenance required and longevity of a fiber optic system, depending on the environment. Proper test
methods are discussed. There is a review of the essentials of proper fiber optic testing and impact of changing such test
parameters as input launch conditions, wavelength considerations, power meter options and the basic methods of testing.
This becomes important right from the start when the supplier test data differs from the user’s data check upon receiving
the product. It also is important in periodic testing. Properly conducting the fiber optic testing will eliminate confusion and
produce meaningful test results for a given harsh environment application.