Steve Nichols

One company is convinced that "fly-by-light" is the safest way to travel and could possibly prevent accidents like the crash of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996. Massachusetts-based Control by Light is promoting fibre optic-based sensing and control as an alternative to wire-based systems. Fibre transmits information in the form of light, so it is intrinsically safe, does not suffer from radio interference, crosstalk, or corrosion, and unlike copper wire, is an insulator so can not chaff and cause sparks or fires.

The company is working with Smiths Industries (Hall 4 Stand A11) to jointly develop the world's first optically-powered aircraft fuel quantity indicating system to improve aircraft safety. The system monitors fuel probes with absolutely no electrical wiring in the tank wall.

This is inherently safer than conventional electrically-powered monitoring systems. CBL, which recently acquired a business unit from Raytheon, has also developed a distributed flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU) that forms a next generation digital flight recording system using an integrated system of remote sensors, fibre optics and one or more digital recorders. The system is highly reliable and can be expanded.

By August this year all newly manufactured aircraft with 19 or more seats must have flight data recording capabilities to monitor 57 different flight parameters. By 2002, a total of 88 different physical parameters will have to be monitored. The CBL solution can monitor more than 160 sources.

CBL has received an order for the DFDAU from American Eagle's fleet of ATR72 and 42 aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News