How to assemble wire harnesses for the aerospace industry

Wire harnesses are an essential component across the aerospace industry. Assembling these vital pieces of equipment takes skill and requires an understanding of the complexity of the design as well as its purpose. These are some of the key elements to consider when it comes to assembling wire harnesses for the aerospace industry.

  • Finding the right wire. There could be a whole range of different factors to consider here but the main motivation is choosing a wire based on the signal that it’s going to be required to transmit bearing in mind the current that it will need to carry. Ideally, the right selection will be the smallest gauge wire that can easily carry the required current.
  • Wire identification. Another essential part of assembling wire harnesses for the aerospace industry is identification. In basic terms, every conductor of current in an aircraft will need to be uniquely identified. There are a number of different ways of fulfilling this requirement, for example using the letter “W” followed by the wires harness number, wire gauge and wire identification number. A single-conductor wire, for example, could be identified as W143-01-15.
  • Choosing the correct connectors. Connectors usually come in a series and when wire harnesses are being assembled for specific fields in aerospace – such as the military – there may be a common series of connectors that is already being used in that context. However, that’s not always the case and there may be other series of connectors to consider, as well as commercial off the shelf connectors and non-standard connectors. Ideally, a series of connectors will have as many contact cavities as possible. Information, such as the gauge of the wires and the number of wires, can be used to determine the best option.
  • Reference designators. These are an essential part of aerospace design as they will identify a component in a system schematic and wiring diagram. Components, such as splices, diodes, ground blocks and circuit breakers will all have their own reference designators.
  • Shield termination options. Shield termination is the point at which the shield of a shielded wire is connected to another component. The shield is there to minimise electromagnetic interference that can be the result of an electrical current in a wire – or one that is being caused by other wires. It’s an essential part of ensuring that there is a clear and uninterrupted signal. In aerospace it’s common to see shield termination to a jumper wire, which is then connected to a ground point.
  • Bundling and protection. Organising and holding a bundle of wires in place and protecting them is one of the key functions of the wire harness and in aerospace there are a number of materials that are most commonly used for this, including tie wraps, string ties and heat shrink tubing. These vary in terms of cost and effectiveness and the right one will depend on the level of protection required, as well as factors such as weight.

Assembling wire harnesses for the aerospace industry is precise, skilled – and essential – work. We are one of the UK’s leading cable manufacturers for aircraft, aviation & aerospace markets, contact our sales team today about our aerospace cable assemblies