Wiring Installation – Lacing, Tying, and Terminating Wires (Part Three)

in Aircraft Electrical System

Spare Contacts for Future Wiring

To accommodate future wiring additions, spare contacts are normally provided. Locating the unwired contacts along the outer part of the connector facilitates future access. A good practice is to provide two spares on connectors with 25 or fewer contacts; 4 spares on connectors with 26 to 100 contacts; and 6 spares on connectors with more than 100 contacts. Spare contacts are not normally provided on receptacles of components that are unlikely to have added wiring. Connectors must have all available contact cavities filled with wired or unwired contacts. Unwired contacts should be provided with a plastic grommet sealing plug.

Wire Installation Into the Connector

Wires that perform the same function in redundant systems must be routed through separate connectors. On systems critical to flight safety, system operation wiring should be routed through separate connectors from the wiring used for system failure warning. It is also good practice to route a system’s indication wiring in separate connectors from its failure warning circuits to the extent practicable. These steps can reduce an aircraft’s susceptibility to incidents that might result from connector failures.

Adjacent Locations

Mating of adjacent connectors should not be possible. In order to ensure this, adjacent connector pairs must be different in shell size, coupling means, insert arrangement, or keying arrangement. When such means are impractical, wires should be routed and clamped so that incorrectly mated pairs cannot reach each other. Reliance on markings or color stripes is not recommended as they are likely to deteriorate with age. [Figure 9-161]

Figure 9-161. Connector arrangement to avoid wrong connection.

Figure 9-161. Connector arrangement to avoid wrong connection.


Connectors must be of a type that excludes moisture entry through the use of peripheral and interfacial seal that are compressed when the connector is mated. Moisture entry through the rear of the connector must be avoided by correctly matching the wire’s outside diameter with the connector’s rear grommet sealing range. It is recommended that no more than one wire be terminated in any crimp style contact. The use of heat-shrinkable tubing to build up the wire diameter, or the application of potting to the wire entry area as additional means of providing a rear compatibility with the rear grommet is recommended. These extra means have inherent penalties and should be considered only where other means cannot be used. Unwired spare contacts should have a correctly sized plastic plug installed.


Connectors must be installed in a manner that ensures moisture and fluids drain out of and not into the connector when unmated. Wiring must be routed so that moisture accumulated on the bundle drains away from connectors. When connectors must be mounted in a vertical position, as through a shelf or floor, the connectors must be potted or environmentally sealed. In this situation, it is better to have the receptacle faced downward so that it is less susceptible to collecting moisture when unmated.

Wire Support

A rear accessory back shell must be used on connectors that are not enclosed. Connectors with very small size wiring, or subject to frequent maintenance activity, or located in highvibration areas must be provided with a strain-relief-type back shell. The wire bundle should be protected from mechanical damage with suitable cushion material where it is secured by the clamp. Connectors that are potted or have molded rear adapters do not normally use a separate strain relief accessory. Strain relief clamps should not impart tension on wires between the clamp and contact. [Figure 9-162]

Figure 9-162. Backshells with strain relief.

Figure 9-162. Backshells with strain relief.

Sufficient wire length must be provided at connectors to ensure a proper drip loop and that there is no strain on termination after a complete replacement of the connector and its contacts.

Figure 9-163. Coaxial cables.

Figure 9-163. Coaxial cables.

Coaxial Cable

All wiring needs to be protected from damage. However, coaxial and triaxial cables are particularly vulnerable to certain types of damage. Personnel should exercise care while handling or working around coaxial. [Figure 9-163] Coaxial damage can occur when clamped too tightly, or when they are bent sharply (normally at or near connectors). Damage can also be incurred during unrelated maintenance actions around the coaxial cable. Coaxial cable can be severely damaged on the inside without any evidence of damage on the outside. Coaxial cables with solid center conductors should not be used. Stranded center coaxial cables can be used as a direct replacement for solid center coaxial. [Figure 9-164]

Figure 9-164. Coaxial cable connectors.

Figure 9-164. Coaxial cable connectors. [click image to enlarge]

Coaxial cable precautions include:

  • Never kink coaxial cable.
  • Never drop anything on coaxial cable.
  • Never step on coaxial cable.
  • Never bend coaxial cable sharply.
  • Never loop coaxial cable tighter than the allowable bend radius.
  • Never pull on coaxial cable except in a straight line.
  • Never use coaxial cable for a handle, lean on it, or hang things on it (or any other wire).

Wire Inspection

Aircraft service imposes severe environmental condition on electrical wire. To ensure satisfactory service, inspect wire annually for abrasions, defective insulation, condition of terminations, and potential corrosion. Grounding connections for power, distribution equipment, and electromagnetic shielding must be given particular attention to ensure that electrical bonding resistance has not been significantly increased by the loosening of connections or corrosion.