New Technology Enhances Electrical System Safety

Dangerous arcing events can be intercepted before they occur


Arc fault programmable circuit breakers can increase the safety of aircraft electrical systems, while shaving the weight of wiring in the aircraft and reducing the maintenance effort involved in trouble-shooting wiring faults.

This is the promising judgment of engineers at the Boeing [BA] Phantom Works in Huntsville, Ala., who are developing new circuit protection technology that could revolutionize the design of aircraft electrical systems and could alter the appearance of the cockpit. Current cockpits feature banks of circuit breakers, characterized visibly by phalanxes of buttons on the overhead panel and in panels behind the pilots. Phantom Works engineers envision a technology that would place the circuit protection devices throughout the aircraft, closest to where they are needed. The concept is known as "distributed power architecture." The breakers would literally be transferred out of the cockpit while control of the devices would remain at the flight crew's fingertips.

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