Thermal Switches for Military and Commercial Jets

In a past life I was privileged to work on the very first fly-by-wire system used on the F16. This was the first system of its type used in an operational jet fighter utilizing a quad redundant custom designed CPU and optical fiber to relay cockpit commands to control surfaces in a matter of milliseconds.

Since then there have been thousands if not millions of improvements large and small to the F16 which remains a staple of NATO allied air forces around the  world

One aircraft in our inventory however, hasn’t had a major upgrade in over 5 decades. It’s the T38 Talon, used to train almost all our jet pilots for the last 50 years. Production of this aircraft actually stopped in 1972 and it lacks capability for upgrade to much of the current generation avionics and display technology. The Air Force is finally going to do something about it and while the contract is not awarded yet, all the major players are lined up for this lucrative potential business.

Not content to wait for the contract award, Lockheed-Martin has already produced its version of the new T35 called the T-50A based on their FA50 golden eagle. This trainer will have the kind of large HUD and sophisticated, Ultra-modern glass cockpit design that will allow it to serve as a proper training bed for the next generation of fighter pilots.

Ultra-Modern Jets, yes, but with the same ageless challenges.

While many applications for thermal controls have gone the way of remote switches and local sensors, there is still a place for the hardened, standalone, autonomous thermal switch. One of those places, may well be the avionics bay of the Air Force’s next generation of fighters like the T-50A.  With concerns around fail-safe operation, and various “golden bullet” scenarios, a locally active thermal switch is still the best solution for monitoring temperature in many avionics applications.

CPI has supplied reliable thermal switching solutions to various major aircraft manufacturers worldwide for applications in the avionics bay ECS, APUs, compressors, galley equipment, for hydraulic fluid temperature monitoring, and many more. Our most common aerospace designs have been qualified per RTCA DO-160C and MIL-STD-810.

General Product Features of CPI Thermal Switches

temperature_switchesAll CPI thermal switches are designed and manufactured in the USA at our East Hanover NJ facility. Most commonly used is our M series thermal switches referred to as our “Plug-Stat” series. Contact movement is achieved via the different expansion rates of two metals fused together. This is a slow-make-and-break device, which provides very close tolerance temperature sensing, with a small differential and a set point range: 0°F-650°F (-17.8°C-343°C). For those requiring even higher temperature operation, our Rod & Tube series can operate reliably at set points up to 1750F.

In general CPI’s line of thermal switches have the following characteristics and options:

  • Capable of setpoints from 0 to 1750F
  • Hermetically sealed designs available
  • Glass-sealed MIL connectors
  • Thread and surface mount designs
  • Various probe lengths
  • Meet the requirements of RTCA DO-160C, and MIL-STD-810

Call CPI today for more information about proven thermal switching solutions for commercial and military avionics.