Aircraft cables are stranded wires found throughout an aircraft in a variety of important applications. They are used for harnesses for electrical wiring, tie downs, stabilizers, safety fasteners, and a wide range of other functions. Aside from use in the aircraft itself, the same cables are used to lift jet engines, wings, and other components into place during assembly or repair. Additionally, these cables are used as an arresting gear to stop aircraft landing on limited spaces (like aircraft carriers or short runways) by engaging the tail-hook and transferring the kinetic energy.
While aircraft cables have countless uses in the aerospace and aviation industries, they are also used in a wide range of industries where their high strength, corrosion resistance, and small diameters are needed. These include industries such as agriculture, marine, irrigation, defense, and more. Although aircraft cables are a type of wire rope, their main distinction from other types of wire rope is their diameter. Typical wire ropes are not regularly available in diameters smaller than ¼ inch, while aircraft cables commonly have diameters as tiny as 3/64 inches.
There are two types of aircraft cable available based on material composition. The highest quality cables are made from stainless steel. Depending on the application, they can be made from either grade 316, 302, or 304 stainless steel. Cables of this material offer high strength, fatigue, and corrosion resistance even in salt water, caustic liquids, or other harsh environments. The second material is galvanized steel, which is made by dipping steel cables in hot zinc for increased durability and corrosion resistance.
Regardless of the material, aircraft cables are assembled in the same manner: small, individual wires are twisted and braided into strands which are subsequently laid around cords. Like other wire ropes, aircraft cables are identified not only by the material they are made from, but also by the number of strands in the rope and the number of wires in each strand. Common identifications include 7x19, 7x7, 3x7, 1x19, and 1x7, where the first number represents the strands and the second number represents the wires. Further identification codes that denote core type, workload limit, and more also exist, but are less commonly used.
Aircraft cables are made for a wide variety of applications and therefore are produced in many configurations with varying diameters and materials. Due to its specialized and important role, it is important to understand the capabilities of aircraft cable before purchasing it.
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