Stratos Optical Technologies, one division of Stratos International, which recently merged with Emerson Network Power, is supplying optical transceivers for the through companies including Rockwell Collins, Honeywell and GE Aviation (formerly Smith).
To shave weight off the 787, Boeing opted to replace the shielded copper wiring used to send data including video in the aircraft’s cockpit with optical fibers, which don’t require the same shielding that copper does. Stratos’ optical transceivers are typically used in the visualization aids of cockpit controls such as head-up displays and other navigations.
“In yesterday’s cockpit, they had dials and meters; you actually watched a little dial rotate to tell you what your altitude was and you had an arrow pointing at something mechanically to show you all kinds of other things,” says Dale Reed, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Stratos International. “Today that’s all been replaced with television screens, so they have to move a lot of video material around inside the cockpit, and video is a very different animal than normal transceivers. We have a lot of understanding of how to move video signals, and how to transceive them.”
According to Reed, the signal does need to be converted back to copper to interface with the electronics. “We’re enabling some optical to copper transceiver conversions.” The transceivers also need to be robust enough to handle the harsh environment of a plane in mid-flight. “Transceivers are no magic; they’ve been around for years in networking, but they’re not designed to go on airplanes, it’s somewhat of a harsh environment,” he says.
“In an aircraft, the emphasis is on never-fail performance, and having to be able to operate on a 100 percent up-time basis over the life of the plane and over the altitude, temperature differentials and pressure differentials; it’s a harsh environment,” says Reed.
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