Wiring Harness Design in Aerospace Industry


3 mins

Wiring Harness Design in Aerospace Industry

In the vast expanse of the aerospace industry, where cutting-edge technology meets the boundless skies, the significance of wiring harness design cannot be overstated. Wiring harnesses serve as the lifelines of modern aircraft, enabling the transmission of power, signals, and data that keep planes soaring and systems functioning flawlessly.

In this blog post, we embark on a captivating journey into the world of wiring harness design specifically tailored for the aerospace industry. We delve into the challenges, importance of wiring harness and innovations that drive this crucial aspect of aircraft engineering. 

Let’s have a look at What is Aircraft Wiring Harness.

What is Aircraft Wiring Harness?

An aircraft wiring harness is a sophisticated network of wires, connectors, and other electrical components that interconnect various systems and components within an aircraft. It serves as a central nervous system, transmitting power, signals, and data between different electrical devices, instruments, and control systems.

Aircraft wiring harnesses are meticulously designed to meet the specific requirements of aviation, taking into account factors such as safety, reliability, weight reduction, electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection, and compatibility with harsh environmental conditions.

The harness consists of multiple wires bundled together, often color-coded for easy identification and organization. These wires are carefully routed and secured to ensure optimal performance, prevent chafing or damage, and maintain a neat and organized system within the aircraft.

Connectors and terminals are used to establish secure and reliable electrical connections between wires and components. These connectors are designed to withstand the vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and environmental challenges experienced during flight.

From commercial airliners to military jets and private aircraft, wiring harnesses are integral to the safe and efficient operation of aircraft systems, including avionics, flight controls, lighting, communication systems, entertainment systems, and more.

Importance of Wire Harness for the Aerospace Industry

The wire harness is crucial for the aerospace industry for several reasons:

Reliable Power and Signal Transmission

In the aerospace industry, where safety and reliability are paramount, the wire harness plays a critical role in transmitting power, signals, and data between various electrical components and systems. It ensures that electrical systems, such as avionics, flight controls, navigation systems, and communication systems, operate seamlessly and without interruption.

Safety and Redundancy

The aerospace industry has stringent safety requirements, and the wire harness is designed with safety and redundancy in mind. It incorporates multiple layers of protection, such as shielding, insulation, and grounding, to prevent electrical failures, short circuits, and electromagnetic interference. Redundancy measures are implemented to ensure the continuity of critical systems in the event of a single-point failure.

Compliance with Regulations

Aerospace wiring harnesses must comply with strict industry regulations and standards, such as those set by organizations like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). These regulations ensure that wiring harnesses meet specific criteria for materials, electrical performance, installation, and maintenance, contributing to the overall safety and airworthiness of the aircraft.

Harsh Environment Resistance

Aircraft operate in demanding environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures, high vibration levels, and exposure to moisture, chemicals, and electromagnetic interference. Wiring harnesses are designed to withstand these challenges, utilizing materials, coatings, and routing techniques that provide resistance to temperature fluctuations, vibrations, abrasion, and environmental contaminants.

Weight Reduction and Space Optimization

The aerospace industry continuously strives to reduce aircraft weight to improve fuel efficiency, increase payload capacity, and enhance performance. Wiring harnesses contribute to this goal by utilizing lightweight materials, optimizing wire routing, and employing compact designs. By minimizing weight and maximizing space efficiency, wiring harnesses enable more effective use of limited aircraft real estate.

Compatibility with Advanced Technologies

The aerospace industry is rapidly advancing with the integration of advanced technologies such as fly-by-wire controls, in-flight entertainment, communication systems, and avionics. Wiring harnesses are instrumental in facilitating the seamless integration of these technologies, ensuring reliable connectivity, data transmission, and system interoperability.

Maintenance and Repair Efficiency

In the aerospace industry, efficient maintenance and repair processes are crucial to minimize downtime and ensure aircraft availability. Well-designed wiring harnesses enable easier troubleshooting, diagnosis, and replacement of components, reducing maintenance time and costs. 

Documentation and Certifications

The complexity and criticality of aerospace applications demand strict adherence to standards, certifications, and documentation to ensure the highest levels of safety, performance, and reliability. All the documentation of the harness should come from certified distributors. Harness drawings and manufacturing documents should have all respective references and quality approved certifications. By insisting on proper documentation and certifications, the aerospace industry can significantly mitigate risks related to material quality and compatibility.

Key Components of Aircraft Wiring Harness Assembly

Aircraft wiring harness assembly involves the integration of various components to create a reliable and efficient electrical system. Here are some key components typically included in an aircraft wiring harness assembly:


The fundamental building blocks of a wiring harness assembly are the wires themselves. They are selected based on factors such as electrical conductivity, temperature resistance, and flexibility. Wires are usually made of copper or aluminum and are available in different gauges to accommodate various current-carrying capacities.


Connectors are used to join wires and establish secure electrical connections. They come in different types, such as circular connectors, rectangular connectors, and terminal blocks. Connectors ensure reliable signal and power transmission, and they often feature locking mechanisms to prevent accidental disconnections.


Backshells are protective enclosures that cover and secure the connection area of a connector. They provide strain relief, shielding against EMI, and environmental protection. Backshells are designed to withstand the vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and moisture exposure typically encountered in an aircraft.

Sleeving and Heat Shrink Tubing

Sleeving and heat shrink tubing are used to provide insulation, protection, and organization to the wires in a wiring harness assembly. Sleeving is typically braided or woven and is used for mechanical protection, while heat shrink tubing is applied over individual wires or splices and shrinks when heated to provide a tight and secure seal.

Splices and Terminals

Splices and terminals are used to join wires together or terminate them at specific points. Splices are used to create secure connections between wires, while terminals are crimped or soldered onto the ends of wires for connection to other components. These components ensure reliable electrical continuity and facilitate the modular assembly of the wiring harness.

Protective Tapes and Wraps

Protective tapes and wraps are used to further secure and insulate the wiring harness assembly. They provide an additional layer of protection against moisture, abrasion, and other environmental factors. Examples include vinyl tape, silicone tape, and self-adhesive wraps.

Labels and Markers

Labels and markers are essential for proper identification and organization of wires within the wiring harness assembly. They help technicians and maintenance personnel identify specific wires, connections, and functions, facilitating troubleshooting, maintenance, and repairs.

Mounting Hardware

Mounting hardware, such as clips, clamps, and brackets, is used to secure the wiring harness assembly to the aircraft structure. These components ensure that the harness remains in its designated position, preventing chafing, vibration-induced wear, and damage. 

How to manage complexity in aerospace wire harness design

Managing complexity in aerospace wire harness design is crucial to ensure efficient manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and overall system performance. Here are some key strategies for effectively managing complexity:

Systematic Design Approach

Adopting a systematic design approach is essential to manage complexity. This involves breaking down the wiring harness design into smaller modules or sections, each with its own set of functions and requirements. By dividing the design process into manageable units, it becomes easier to handle and optimize the complexity within each module.

Requirements Analysis

Thoroughly understanding and analyzing the requirements of the wiring harness design is critical. This includes considering factors such as aircraft configuration, system interfaces, electrical loads, environmental conditions, and regulatory compliance. By clearly defining the requirements upfront, complexity can be managed through focused design decisions and trade-offs.

Standardization and Modularization

Standardization and modularization techniques can help reduce complexity by promoting reusability and simplifying manufacturing processes. Designing standardized wire harness modules that can be used across different aircraft platforms or systems streamlines production, maintenance, and logistics. Modularization allows for easier integration, replacement, and upgrades of individual components, reducing overall complexity.

3D Routing and Simulation

Utilizing advanced 3D routing and simulation software can greatly aid in managing complexity. These tools enable designers to visualize the entire wiring harness in a digital environment, identifying potential clashes, optimizing wire routing, and verifying installation feasibility. Simulation capabilities can assess factors like wire length, weight, and signal integrity, ensuring an optimized and error-free design.

Design for Manufacturability and Serviceability

Designing wire harnesses with manufacturability and serviceability in mind helps streamline production and maintenance processes. Components should be easily accessible and replaceable, with clear identification and labeling. Incorporating features like connectors with quick-release mechanisms, standardized splices, and modular designs simplifies installation, troubleshooting, and repair activities.

Configuration Management

Effective configuration management is crucial for managing complexity in wire harness design. This involves maintaining accurate and up-to-date documentation, including bill of materials, schematics, wiring diagrams, and configuration control procedures. Robust configuration management practices ensure consistency and traceability throughout the lifecycle of the wire harness, reducing errors and complexity during manufacturing, maintenance, and upgrades.

Collaboration and Communication

Effective collaboration and communication among multidisciplinary teams are vital for managing complexity. Close coordination between design engineers, electrical systems engineers, manufacturing personnel, and suppliers helps align requirements, resolve conflicts, and ensure smooth integration of the wire harness into the larger aircraft system.

The aerospace industry continues to evolve, with advancements in materials, manufacturing processes, and technology driving the development of more sophisticated and future-ready wiring harnesses. As aircraft become more complex, wiring harness design will play a crucial role in enabling the integration of advanced systems, ensuring compatibility, and facilitating efficient maintenance and repairs.

By embracing innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to excellence, aerospace manufacturers can ensure that their wiring harness designs are future-ready, contributing to the advancement of aviation technology and the safe journey of passengers around the world.

Need end-to-end engineering services to improve your business?
Learn here