Kirkland, Washington-based Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems (AES), a subsidiary of Astronics Corp. (Booth C4639), rolled out its new 28-volt DC electronic circuit breaker unit this week at Heli-Expo 2018 in Las Vegas. The lightweight, compact CorePower 1448, which is part of Astronics’s CorePower electrical power distribution system, functions as both a breaker and a switch for controlling loads and replaces conventional thermal-mechanical circuit breakers. It contains 24 unidirectional 28-volt DC electronic circuit breakers.
“What we're announcing at Heli-Expo is smaller and lighter than our previous products,” Astronics ACS vice president of airborne power and control Kellsey Justus told AIN. “I think the biggest benefit of our electronic circuit breaker unit, compared to say the last four generations of products, is that it's more versatile. We allow the customer to reconfigure the power system aircraft-by-aircraft, and we give them the tools to program it.”
The basic value proposition for a solid-state system is lighter weight. “Cockpit automation integrates with avionics, so you can eliminate thermal circuit breakers and lots of wiring, and reduce the pilot workload,” Justus explained. “What has changed is that the new product is smaller and more cost-effective than the previous design, and with unprecedented versatility.
"We use the same size unit for any aircraft, and you can scale up, if needed. You can have one, two, or three circuit boards stacked up. And you can have up to 30 boards on a single network. There's no limit to the number of units you could have in an aircraft; and each of the circuit boards would be physically identical.”
Key benefits of the product are reduced weight and costs; the elimination of electromechanical devices, relays, contactors and switches; and a significant reduction in wiring and the labor associated with installation. Other features include a compact design for installation flexibility; the fact that each card is a fully contained, individually addressable unit; customer-controlled configuration parameters; fewer wires and components; system monitoring and control via existing avionics displays; and flight-proven reliability, with more than 10 million failure-free hours.
Astronics customers for its electronic circuit breaker unit are the helicopter and airplane manufacturers. A version of the unit will be certified on the Textron Denali turboprop single.
“In the future,” Justus said, “this family of products will enable customers to easily expand their system with components, such an alternating current electronic circuit breaker or I/O card, to craft a custom architecture for varied platforms.”