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Copper and Cable Vs. Fibre Optic Technology

Application of optical fiber in aviation industry, especially in commercial and military aircrafts, has continued to increase over the past years mainly because of technological advancement. Modern technology particularly in telecommunication sector has made fiber optic subsystems, systems and components to be largely accepted in military and commercial markets. As a result, optical fiber has become one of the new technologies that are revolutionizing commercial aircraft industry. The total market for optical fibre in commercial and military aircraft was $306 million in 2009 and increased to $775 million in 2015 [1]. The largest markets for optical fiber are in commercial aircrafts, private jets, regional jets, small aircrafts and helicopters, which are all civilian aircrafts. This implies that application of optical fibre in civilian aircrafts is quite prevalent. The upsurge in total market has been attributed to a wide range of factors including rapid development and acceptance of optical fibre in telecommunication sector, need to decrease size and weight of commercial aircraft components and systems, need to reduce power consumption by the aircrafts, need for greater/more and better-quality bandwidth, and evolving market for unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs). The main areas of application for optical fibre in civilian aircrafts are electronic flight bag (EFB) and inflight entertainment (IFE) systems [2].

Copper and cable has been dominating broadband connections across the world. However, this has changed over the years and in 2015, fibre optics had overtaken copper and cable in broadband connections, as evidenced by Figure 1 below [3]. The aviation industry has not been different and for many years, copper cables have been widely used for wiring that integrates avionics systems for data communicating and antennas and audio interconnecting. Nevertheless, the avionics industry needs to transmit an ever increasing volume of data and information faster than before in that electrical-based systems are not able to meet these new demands. Two current trends in avionics markets that are related to data transmission are need to decrease weight and continually increasing transmission speeds. One of the solutions for these trends is application of fibre optic technology. Fibre optics can replace the many copper cables that are connected in aircrafts thus reducing size, weight and wastage [4]. The need for increased data rates in military and civilian aircrafts has augmented and fibre optics have become a reliable solution of conveying high-speed protocols over very long distances [5]. This report investigates application of optical fibre in civilian aircrafts with main focus being on inflight entertainment and flight by light fibre.

Civil aviation industry consists of commercial passenger aircrafts, private aircrafts, helicopters and cargo aircrafts. Designers of these aircrafts strive to reduce costs and weight, and at the same time improve functionality, safety and experience of passengers in an industry that is known to be very cost-competitive. The largest segment of civilian aircrafts usually comprises of electrical and cabin electronic systems. These include flight attendant panels, passenger seats, kitchen equipment, lighting systems and electric door systems. However, there are complex and several challenges that hinder designers from upgrading civilian aircrafts to meet the current IFE demands. Today, technology has resulted to connected homes, vehicles and offices, where people can control these devices or happenings in these places from wherever they are using technology. This is what modern-day air passengers also want. They want to have more access to their electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, and also unlimited connectivity to entertainment or business even when onboard [6]. Typically, IFE systems are installed by the help of printed circuit board (PCB) box components. The boxes are usually located under passenger seats thus forcing passengers to compete with them for legroom. This problem has been overcome by use of optics in installing IFE system. The fibre optics weigh less and are very small in size hence passengers have adequate legroom for their convenience and comfort.   

Challenges for Designers of Civilian Aircrafts

Before analyzing the details about properties, applications, advantages and disadvantages of fibre optics in civilian aircrafts, it is very important to know the primary parts of a fibre optics connection. A fibre optic connection has four key components: transmitter, optical cable/fibre, connectors and receiver, as shown in Figure 2 below [7].

The optical transmitter is where electrical signals are converted to optical. The transmitter comprises of a light source like an LED (light emitting diode), laser diode or a VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser). The light source produce light at particular wavelengths depending on the type of materials they are made of. Optical cable/fibre is responsible for transmitting data and information in the aircraft to various systems such as control systems, IFE systems, communication systems, display systems and inflight networking systems. The connector is responsible for completing the connection between transmitter and fibre optic cable, and the receiver and fibre optic cable. There are two types of connectors: expanded beam connectors and physical contact connectors [7]. The latter are the most common ones in commercial aircrafts and they perform well, are repeatable, robust, cost-effective and easy to clean. The cable is used for transmission of data and signals. The optical receiver is where optical signals are converted to electrical signals by use of a photodiode. There are two main types of photodiodes that are used: APD (avalanche photodiode) and PIN (positive intrinsic negative).    

The core is the central section of the optical fibre and usually made of silica. This is the region where light is transmitted. Cladding is the first coat/layer surrounding the core. The cladding is made of silica but of different composition with that of core. It makes an optical waveguide that restricts movement of light within the core. This is done through total internal reflection (TIR) that occurs at the interface between the core and cladding. Coating is the layer surrounding the cladding. It comprises of at least one layer of polymer for protecting the structure of silica against environmental or physical damage. Another layer of an optical fibre that is not shown on the diagram in Figure 3 above is buffer. This is a layer that surrounds the coating. It is used for protecting the fibre against breakage when it is being installed and terminated. Figure 4 below shows the structure of FlightLink optical fibre cable that was specially designed for commercial aircrafts [8]. The structure shows the position of the core, cladding, coating, buffer and other layers of the optical fibre cable.

Light is transmitted through the core and guided by optical cladding. The refractive index of the cladding is lower than that of the core hence light gets trapped in the core through TIR.

As the light travels through the fibre, it is progressively attenuated. The value of attenuation is expressed in decibel per kilometer (dB/km). The attenuation is also expressed as a function of light’s wavelength (λ). The typical wavelengths at which light travels in optical fibre range between 850nm and 1300 nm, and 1300nm and 1500nm in multimode and single mode respectively. Multimode mode fibre is where light travels via the fibre by following different paths known as modes where in single mode fibre, light propagates through only one straight mode. A graph showing the relationship between attenuation and wavelength of an optical fibre.

Components of Fibre Optic Connection

The attenuation of single mode and multimode optical fibres also varies with length, multimode fibers having slightly higher than single mode optical fibers.

An optical fibre cable comprises of very thin filaments of plastic or glass (glass is the common materials). A cable can comprise as few as 2 filaments or as many as 700 filaments. The thickness of each filament is usually 10 times less than that of human air thus the optical fibre cables are very small in size and weigh less than the usual copper cables. But regardless of size, each filament of an optical fibre cable can carry about 25,000 telephone calls [9]. Transfer of data through an optical fibre cable is enabled by the movement of light through the cable. The light bounces off the walls of the cable repeatedly as it travels down the cable. Typically, the light is expected to escape through the surface of the glass material of the cable but this is not the case because the angle at which the light hits the glass is shallower hence it gets reflected back. This phenomenon is referred to as TIR, which ensures that light travels inside the pipe without leaking out. Figure 6 below shows the TIR of light as it travels through an optical fibre cable [9].

Optical fibre cables are specialized cables that facilitate transfer of data at very high speeds. These cables are very expedient in modern civilian and military aircrafts that fly at high altitudes of over 30,000 ft. The aircrafts also fly in remote places where availability of bandwidth is very limited to support various functions of modern aircrafts such as inflight Wi-Fi systems that keep passengers connected while on flight [10]. These cables significantly reduce wiring length in aircrafts thus saving space and reducing total weight of the aircraft.

Fiber optic cables have numerous advantages over traditional cables such as copper cables. These new cables are able to transfer data over a very long distance faster, have smaller diameters, weigh less, provide great bandwidth for video, data or image and their security, use less power, and are unaffected by electromagnetic and radio frequency interference. These make them suitable for use in areas where closeness to electronic devices could result to these interferences [11]. The various advantages of optical fibres are discussed below

The typical bandwidths of optical fibres for multimode fibres usually range from 200 to 600MHz-km while those for single mode fibres are greater than 10GHZ-km. These bandwidths are very high compared to those of electrical conductors, which usually range between 10MHz-km and 25MHz-km. The fibre optics have great capacity that enables passengers to watch what they like on big screens and in high definition. The great signal bandwidth provides more capacity for the optical fibre cables to carry large volumes of data and information of up to 10Gbs and more [12]. The great bandwidths ensure that passengers can stream videos or listen to audios of their choice throughout the flight.

Optical fibres do not emit any radiation and they are not susceptible to electromagnetic interference. As a result, optical fibre guarantees uninterrupted control of the aircraft and entertainment of passengers regardless of the radio or electromagnetic frequency in which the aircraft is flying. The optical fibre cables transmit signals in form of light and not current. This means that they can transfer signals in areas where transmission could be blocked by electromagnetic interference.

Optical Fibre Structure and Properties

With use of fibre optics, the IFE system goes directly to the screen instead of passing through the heavy boxes that typically and unnecessarily occupy passengers’ legroom. The wiring of IFE system is done using few wires that are connected from the aircraft’s front where the head-end system is fitted and are passed through the ceiling to each screen on the passenger seats, as shown in the Figure 9 below [13]. The typical diameter of an optical fibre capable is 8 times less than that of a copper cable. The fibre optic cables also weigh less than traditional copper cables. The weight of fibre optics is usually 10-30% less than that of copper cables [4].

This is another major advantage of optical fibre. The fibre optics have high strength that enables them to transfer data extremely fast and over a very long distance with very minimal loss. The attenuation of this fibre is very low compared to that of copper cables. This means that the intensity of the signal being transmitted does is not lost over a long distance, which allow fewer repeaters and longer runs of optical fibre cables.

Electrical transmission of signals can be very dangerous because any sparks or short circuits produces can cause an explosion. Previously, these potential hazards were great hindrances to communication and data transmission in aircrafts. Optical fibre cables can transfer data efficiently from one point to another irrespective of the electrical potential that is between the two points. In addition, fire optics do not cause short circuits or release any sparks. The cables also do not contain metal conductors that usually pose shock hazards in aircrafts wired by copper cables. All these improve safety of the civilian aircrafts that use optical fibre cables.

Even though the cost of fibre optics is relatively low than that of copper cables, total cost of the former in the long run is lower because they have very minimal maintenance needs. Once the optical fibres have been installed, they can be used for a very long period of time with no or very little maintenance.

With fibre optics, characteristics of transmission remain unchanged in virtually any temperature. The fibre optic cables are designed to function in a wide range of temperature including high-temperature environments where conventional cables such as copper cables could not function properly. Thus with fibre optics in civilian aircrafts, flight control and IFE systems remain reliable regardless of the temperature environment within the aircraft is travelling.    

Some of the drawbacks of copper cables are that they generate noise when transmitting signals and also allows leakage of information carried on the conductors. An attempt that has been made to reduce these problems is protecting the wires but this still allows some signals to be leaked thus creating room to tap the data being transmitted. Optical fibres have increased data security because they are not easy to puncture and do not transmit radiation signals externally. This means that all electromagnetic fields are restrained in the fibre thus all data and information being transmitted through fibre optics is completely secured. With this, it is impossible for the signal to be tapped unless it is cut, which can be detected easily. It is also very difficult and almost impossible to hack into a fibre network because of the easy detection. The commercial passenger aircraft’s airframe also operates autonomously of the cabin, which enhances security.  

The durability of optical fibres is very high. The fibre optics are made of glass, which is rust free and chemically stable. This enables the fibre optics to function effectively even in adverse environments thus increasing their operating life.

Optical fibres have a wide range of applications in civilian aircrafts. These include: digital video systems, avionics networks, flight management systems, cabin management system, transceivers, Ethernet backbone, connectivity systems and IFE systems. This implies that fibre optics improve the flight experience of both the flight crew and the passengers. Comfort of passengers in commercial aircrafts is very important and there are different ways of improving passenger comfort including providing adequate legroom, improving data connectivity and providing different entertainment options (both video and audio). The best way of ensuring that passengers in commercial aircrafts are properly connected with inflight convenience and comfort is by use of reliable and secure electrical and cable interconnections. This can be achieved by use of fibre optics. The optical fibre cables facilitate flexible IFE, high-speed networking, automated aircraft systems and unlimited web access.

Gone is the time when passengers boarded long-haul flights only to find that the entertainment options provided are limited, outdated and boring. Fibre optics now enable provision of unlimited entertainment options where passengers can watch on-board videos, including latest 3-D releases, and keep their social media profiles updated from the comfort of their seats. Today, there are commercial aircrafts with virtually reality headsets for IFE systems. This has been enabled through fast transfer of data and internet connection by use of optical fibre cables. Figure 10 below shows a passenger using virtual reality headsets on board [14]. Besides watching videos and listening to audios, passengers can also play their favorite online games.

When looking for IFE systems, most airlines consider the following factors: weight, compactness, power consumption, cost and maintenance needs. Additionally, they want IFE systems that will provide their passengers maximum comfort, convenience and enjoyment. The airlines are now using fibre optics so as to meet passengers’ demand by installing IFE features that allow passengers to be connected and use their personal communication devices while onboard [15]. The optical fibre cables are connected from the server to all the screens in the aircraft through the ceiling, side walls and under the floor hence they are not visible to passengers. This has been facilitated by the fact that the cables are very thin compared to copper cables thus they are unnoticeable.    

Because of fibre optics, commercial aircrafts are no longer having overhead screens for passenger entertainment. Instead, they have seat-back screens that allows each passenger to enjoy their favorite entertainments (including broadcast television, movies, online shopping, games and music), such as the one shown in Figure 11 below [16]. Optical fibre cables also eliminate intermediate seat electronics, zone boxes and switches that occupied a lot of space and increased weight of the aircraft when copper cables were used.

Most civilian aircrafts, especially commercial aircrafts, usually run on information. The civilian aircrafts of today are also using electrical control systems that have replaced the conventional mechanical control systems. Therefore the control and signal processing loads of aircrafts have increased and so is the need for embedded computers to meet these new demands. Electronics, such as actuators and sensors, are now playing a major role in controlling flight systems. These electronics function well when there is efficient and reliable networking, data transmission and communication systems. These new demands have driven aircraft designers and manufacturers to develop strategies of improving data and information transfer in civilian aircrafts. One of the major developments so far is introduction of fibre optics in flight control systems. This has led to fly by wire (fibre) flight control systems. The fly by fibre control system has now replaced the traditional manual or mechanical flight control system of an aircraft. With the new flight control system, the aircraft is control via an electronic interface. In this case, flight control movements are converted into electronic signals then transmitted by fibre optics. There are flight control computers that are used to establish how actuators should be moved at every control surface so as to deliver response that has been ordered [17].

Fly by fibre control system is a type of fight control system where transmission of input control signals to the actuators is done via a medium comprising of optical fibre cables. Feedback from various systems such as the control surfaces is also transmitted through optical fibre cables. All inputs from aircraft control surfaces, control column, and data including angle of attack, air velocity, temperature, and dynamic and static pressure are also transmitted into a computer through optical fibre links. The optical fibre cables are also used to transmit data from the computer to display screens at the cockpit from which the pilot uses the right input to control the aircraft.

Another important aspect of fly by fibre control system is that the system allows automatic signals that are sent by the computers of the aircraft to perform particular functions without the input of the pilot. This means that the system can assist in stabilizing the aircraft automatically, when it is necessary, without involvement of the pilot. This is very useful especially in emergency situations. It is important to note that flight by fibre is also commonly referred to as flight by light in the aviation industry.

Use of optical fibres has largely improved performance of commercial aircrafts. These fibres are lightweight, have great data bandwidth, are easy to maintain, and have immunity to high intensity radiated field (HIRF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Today, many commercial airlines have turned to fly by fibre and have not only improved performance of their aircrafts but also increased safety and comfort of passengers, and also reduced operational costs especially due to low maintenance needs of the aircrafts.

The performance and complexity of flight control systems have developed over the years. The key components of a fly by fibre control system include: flight control surfaces, computers, pilot interface, mechanical actuators and data links. Optical fibres benefit all these components. There are design and construction standards for each of these components to ensure that they meet the minimum performance requirements in varied circumstances. Modern civilian aircrafts are controlled using very powerful and sophisticated digital computers. All these components are integrated to facilitate efficient operations even in very harsh environments, immunity to transients, varying bandwidths, error detection and correction, maintainability, low latency and to overcome basic failure modes.

Another crucial aspect of fly by fibre control systems is that they have unique requirements that are not found in other traditional flight control systems. A fly by fibre control system is a real-time, dynamic and safety critical system that maintains control of the aircraft more accurately and stably. The system is interconnected using fibre optics that ensure timely and accurate transmission of important signals. Its design and interconnection reduces the probability of aircraft destruction even if the flight control system fails. For instance, some actions can be performed by the computer in case of emergencies even without the involvement of the pilot. The system has considerable fault tolerance and has been designed based on high integrity and by considering fundamental safety failure modes.

All fly by fibre control systems are designed and built in accordance with appropriate flight control specifications and standards. This entails the design criteria, quality of materials used and production methods. All these aim at ensuring flight safety.

Different aircrafts have varied bandwidth requirements. The major advantage of fly by fibre control systems is that they have great bandwidths that usually surpass the requirements of most aircrafts. The systems have bandwidths of as high as 10GHz-km, which is very high and has only been made possible because of use of optical fibres. These bandwidths facilitate timely, efficient and reliable transmission and display of data and information in inflight networking systems, communication systems and display systems needed and used by pilots when controlling the aircraft.

This is another important requirement of fly by fibre control systems. These systems are required to have integrity of at least 10-8 failures/flight hour. Each component of the system is also supposed to have a failure probability of up to 10-9 or even if it fails then the failure should not reduce the performance of the aircraft. This means that failure of one component of the control system should not mislead the pilot to initiate an incorrect input. Additionally, the fly by fibre control system should guarantee that there will be no occurrence of undetected errors. Fibre optics have played a major towards achieving this high and strict integrity requirements by facilitate efficient and high-speed transmission of data and information.

Fly by fibre control systems are immune to electrical transients because the fibre optics used are invulnerable to electromagnetic interference and they emit no radiation. Also, the optical fibres transmit signals in form of light instead of current thus reducing the possibility of sparks and short circuits. This makes them reliable even when controlling the aircraft in areas where signal transmission is usually blocked due to electromagnetic interference. Therefore fly by fibre control systems guarantee flight safety even in challenging environments with high radio or electromagnetic frequencies.

Before any fly by fibre control system is put into use, it is required to go through a comprehensive analysis so as to identify potential failure modes for reassurance that no failure or failures will cause instability or destruction/crash of the aircraft. The system is also analyzed by assuming that a failure has happened so as to ensure that the safety of the aircraft is not compromised under such a failure. For this to be attained, it is important to have reliable data links that facilitate precise identification of the specific areas that have failed and instigating correction measures promptly. This requirement has been met by use of lightweight and small sized optical fibres that facilitate reliable data and signal transmission.

It is very important for each fly by fibre control system to be easily maintainable. Fibre optics replace a wide range of electrical connections thus fly by fibre control systems are very easy to maintain. The ease of maintainability is because the systems contain very few components, wirings and connections that are easy to dismantle and assemble. With this high level of maintainability, it becomes easier, time saving and cost effective to perform regular maintenance works thus enhancing safety, reducing operational costs and increasing the lifespan of the aircraft.

This refers to the total time taken by a signal to reach the designated destination after being sent. All types of aircraft control systems need to have the lowest latency possible. This facilitates speedy transmission of signals between the pilot and the control towers thus improving aircraft control and safety. There are several factors that affect latency including, but not limited to: buffering, downtime, signal processing, signal conversion, etc. Signal conversion is a major problem in flight control system that are made of copper cables because of the numerous connections along the cable. Optical fibres enables high speed transmission of signals hence their latencies are very low. This ensures that networking systems, communication systems, display systems and data transmission systems in the aircraft are updated continuously enabling the pilot to make the right input at all times.

Fly by fibre control systems are required to be deterministic. In this context, determinism implies that there are very strict and limited uncertainties about how fly by fibre control systems respond to given inputs. It is required that these systems be prove mathematically that they will perform as designed. The aim of this is to strictly control all uncertainties.  

Fly by fibre aircrafts are designed to enhance handling characteristics of pilots in the cockpit. The pilot makes order and it is transmitted in form of signals through optical fibre cables to instigate aircraft response. The feedback, which is dependent on how the aircraft responds to the pilot’s input, is sent back to the pilot in the cockpit.

This entails how various panels are arranged in the cockpit. The panels of fly by fibre aircrafts are arranged based on the needs of the pilot. Main control’s location is based on: each system’s relative importance, frequency of pilot’s operations, ease of reaching the controls, and control shape.

These are tactical controls that are used for auto flight. They are positioned where both pilots can reach them easily and quickly.

These are display units that are also positioned where both pilots can view them easily. The display units are: fly – primary flight display (PFD), navigate – navigation display (ND) and monitor (ECAM).

It comprises of the following controls: communication, navigation, configuration and engine thrust.

Fly by fibre system contains numerous automated systems that help pilots in performing their tasks. These systems are useful in complex and fast computations, accurate and safe aircraft operation, and improving pilot awareness via data management. The system comprises of three levels of automation: flight control loop (first level), autopilot loop (second level) and flight management loop (third level).about unexpected events. Ranking of alerts is based on the severity & priority of the event. The system is designed to inhibit some alerts during specific phases of the flight. The alerts aural and/or visual warnings. For example, system display is indicated by ECAM SD while engine warning display is shown by ECAM E/WD.

The three main color codes are red, amber, green, white, blue, magenta and grey. Red shows failures or configurations necessitating immediate action. Amber shows failures or configurations requiring attention of the flight crew but do not necessitate an immediate action. Green and white shows that checklist items or procedure information is complete. Blue shows the need to check checklist items so as to complete actions or for the margins to be followed. Magenta is used for particular memo. Grey indicates actions that the flight crew is yet to validate [19].

This is one of the major advantages of fly by fibre technology. The technology replaces the heavy and large sized mechanical control cables with the thin, small and lightweight optical fibres that significantly reduce total weight of the flight control system.

Mechanical controls need a lot of power to operate. Since the introduction of fly by fibre technology, flight control systems now consume smaller amount of power because virtually all mechanical controls have been replaced with seamless fibre optics that use less power.

Maintenance costs of fly by fibre control systems is very low mainly because these systems are less sophisticated hence they are easier to maintain. The systems also contain very few movable components, which translates into reduced wear and tear and low maintenance needs.

Fly by fibre systems comprises of more efficient networking, communication and data transmission systems that help the pilot and computers to control the aircraft more precisely. The system is able to analyze data and complete complex computations very fast thus enabling precise actions. The aircraft interface is also better making it easier for the pilot to reach all controls whenever needed.   

One of the key elements of fly by fibre systems is that all pilot’s commands and inputs are monitored to ensure that the aircraft remains within the required flight protection envelope. This has reduced incidents where pilots make wrong decisions deliberately thus risking the lives of all other persons onboard. The autopilot also helps to fly the aircraft safely especially during emergency or when the pilot fails to make necessary decisions on time.

Fly by fibre system largely depends on software for transmission of data, commands, signals and responses and computers for instigating commands. This means that if the software or the computers malfunctions, for whatever reasons, control of the aircraft will be almost impossible thus risking the safety of all people on board. The technology is based on the fact that the computer is better placed to make better decisions than the pilot, which is not always true especially during unexpected events.

Any electrical failure of the fly by fibre control system will comprise safety of the aircraft because the pilot and autopilot will not be able to receive the necessary data and communication for safe navigation. Therefore electrical failure is likely to cause the aircraft to crash.

This is another disadvantage that may be overlooked by many people. With fly by fibre systems, pilots do not physically feel that they are in control of the aircraft. For instance, there is no physical connection between the pilot’s yoke or stick and the flight surface. This lack of physical feel sometimes makes pilots to make wrong decisions unknowingly because they do not feel the aircraft’s actual/physical response.


The main goals of airlines are to operate aircrafts efficiently, safely and cost effectively. However, achieving these goals has always been challenging due to the heavy components used to manufacture aircraft systems, unpredictability of flight environments and fluctuating entertainment and comfort needs of passengers. One of the most effective strategies that aircraft manufacturers and airlines are using to overcome these challenges is by use of optical fibres. The fibres have numerous advantages over the conventional copper fibres. The key advantages of optical fibres are: greater bandwidth, wide range of transmission, invulnerable to interference, high strength, lighter and thinner, less maintenance needs and costs and more durable.

Optical fibres enable improved, more efficient and reliable transmission of data, signals and response between the transmitter and receiver. The signals are transmitted through the cable by total internal reflection. The optical fibres have enabled avionics manufacturers to develop modernized IFE systems that allow passengers to have access to unlimited entertainment options, including 3D videos, broadcast television, games, music, internet access, etc., right from their seats. The IFE systems comprise of screens that are installed on seatbacks instead of the traditional overhead screens. These systems occupy very little space giving passengers adequate legroom. This has significantly increase the comfort of passengers even if they are travelling for long hours. Optical fibres have also improved fly by fibre technology that helps pilots to make commands more easily. To ensure precision of these systems, there are several design requirements that must be met when developing the systems. Optical fibres have played a major role in development of fly by fibre control systems because they facilitate reliable and fast transmission of data and information between different systems that are involved in controlling the aircraft. As a result, pilots are now able to control aircrafts more easily, safely and in a more fun way. Most importantly is that the fly by fibre systems do not allow pilots to make wrong decisions intentionally thus reducing chances of a pilot stalling an aircraft deliberately.

Therefore optical fibres have improved travelling experience of passengers because of the IFE systems and also increased airlines’ profit margins because of fly by fibre control systems that are more accurate, safe and cost effective to use. Many stakeholders in the aviation industry are optimistic that there are more advantages of optical fibres that are still being developed and this will continue improving the industry for the benefit of all parties, including passengers.


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[7] Shirk, B. and Curran, M., Basics of fiber optics. Allen, Texas: Amphenol Fiber Systems International (AFSI), 2016.

[8] OFS Fitel, “Avionics optical cables for commercial and defense aircraft.” USA: OFS Fitel, LLC, 2016.

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[18] Harris, B.W., “Fiber optics for flight control systems,” M.S. thesis, Dept. Elect. Eng., Dayton, University, Dayton, Ohio, 2014.

[19] Dumollard, Y., Introduction fly by wire aircraft & new technology. UK: European Aviation Safety Agency, 2014.

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