about Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBG), FBG Sensors and Monitoring Systems

Fiber Optics in Avionics: Optical Fiber vs. Copper Cable

on October 3, 2018

Fiber optic technology is revolutionizing the avionics systems and is lightly to be the ideal solution to future aircraft requirements. Fiber optic products are revolutionizing the avionics systems and ideally to be the perfect solution to future requirements. A modern jet has enormous amounts of data flowing through it to support the latest technologies in the cockpit and the cabin. All that data has to be delivered at lightning speed. This necessity has led aircraft manufacturers and airlines to turn to the optical fiber. The copper cables co-existed with fiber optic applications for decades. Currently, designers and engineers find fiber optic products make better sense technically and economically in the overwhelming majority of cases.

The ability of the optical fiber to transmit much more information in less time over longer distances than traditional copper wire has become the reason that fiber optic equipment is being deployed on aircraft. There are fiber optic bundles of copper cables in an aircraft and the signals which they carry are fully replaceable by fiber optic products to allow an improvement of the system in various different ways.

There are two common trends regarding data transmission in the avionics market: constantly growing transmission speeds and the need to reduce weight. Fiber optic systems are an ideal response to these two trends in providing for high-speed data and immunity to electromagnetic interference that eliminates the need for any type of screening which can often be very expensive due to their weight and complexity. Fiber optic equipment offers lower wastage, weight, size, etc. These advantages make fiber optic equipment suitable for application in aircraft where space restrictions and electromagnetic interferences could be detrimental.

Nowadays fiber optic systems have been implemented in different aircraft systems such as sensory systems, distributed opening systems, and the fiber optic aircraft monitoring.Fiber Optics in Avionics: Optical Fiber vs. Copper Cable

In addition to this, fiber optic devices applied to the monitoring of aircraft structures provide some advantages over traditional devices. Fiber Bragg grating sensors have proved to constitute the most promising technology in this field. In order to prolong the operation period of all kinds of complex engineering systems and avoid catastrophic failures, so it is necessary to achieve the highest levels of damage detection. The automation of the inspection process is a point of major importance to reduce inspection efforts. The structural health monitoring system on the basis of fiber optic products can be defined as a set of devices that provides information that allows to locate, evaluate, and predict the loading and damage conditions of a structure. The structural health monitoring of aircraft structures can conduct real-time checks, reducing costs and improving the reliability and performance of the structures. A wide range of potential structural health monitoring technologies is being developed to meet these needs, and the most promising options are:

  • electrical strain gauges and crack wires;
  • acoustic emissions methods;
  • optical-based technologies;
  • comparative vacuum monitoring;
  • microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Fiber optic products and fiber optic devices, in general, are very appropriate to perform structural health monitoring due to the fact that they have their intrinsic capabilities, such as sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, low weight, compact size, great sensitivity and resolution, and their suitability to be embedded into structures. Fiber optic devices for monitoring the strain in aircraft structures can be classified into the following categories: intensity-based, interferometric, distributed and grating-based fiber optic devices.

Among grating-based sensors, FBGs and probably the most mature and widely employed optical sensors for structural health monitoring of engineering structures due to their fast development achieved in recent years. Fiber Bragg grating sensors have important advantages over conventional strain sensors:

  • high sensitivity and resolution, low weight and small size, the absence of the electromagnetic interference;
  • suitability for being attached to a structure or embedded in composite materials
  • high multiplexing capability;
  • wavelength-encoded sensing in a way that is totally independent of the optical intensity;
  • different magnitudes can be measured using FBGs, such as strain, temperature, vibration or humidity.

Optromix, Inc. is a U.S. manufacturer of innovative fiber optic products for the global market, based in Cambridge, MA. Our team always strives to provide the most technologically advanced fiber optic solutions for our clients. Our main goal is to deliver the best quality fiber optic products to our clients. We produce a wide range of fiber optic devices, including our cutting-edge customized fiber optic Bragg grating product line and fiber Bragg grating sensor systems. Optromix, Inc. is a top choice among the manufacturers of fiber Bragg grating monitoring systems. If you have any questions, please contact us at



editorFiber Optics in Avionics: Optical Fiber vs. Copper Cable

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