Fiber optic connector technology is making significant advances for use in aviation and aerospace
applications. This increasingly user friendly system has contributed to more novel extremely small multifiber
connectors for fiber optic interconnection. With low insertion loss and excellent environmental
endurance in harsh environments they meet the requirements of higher integration in optical backplanes.
There are two main methods of transmitting an optical signal between two fibers: (1) Physical Contact (PC)
and (2) Non-Physical Contact Connectors, Expanded Beam (EB).
Expanded beam connectors have been shown to withstand extreme environments without the need for special
servicing or cleaning equipment. Protecting the optical fibers behind the lenses ensures that no damage or
degradation can occur to the fiber ends.
Severe conditions, extreme surroundings, rough weather, rugged and unforgiving environment call for the
use of high-performance fiber optic connectors. Appropriate connector selection is essential to assure
adequate optical, environmental and mechanical performance. The choice of these items should be specific to
the requirements of the system when considering environmental and mechanical limitations. Proper
installation, maintenance and repair training is essential.
This paper outlines the attributes, environments, requirements, technologies and solutions of fiber optic
connectors for harsh environment for aviation and aerospace applications. Furthermore, it describes various
state-of-the-art technologies, particularly for aviation industry. Discussion will also place emphasis on
physical contact and expanded beam designs which are the fiber optic technologies being used in harsh
environments of aviation and aerospace applications.