Eaton wins contract to develop aircraft electrical wiring protection system

Wed Mar 22, 2000 -

CLEVELAND, OHIO…Eaton Corporation (NYSE:ETN) today said it has received a contract from two federal agencies for the development of break-through technology to protect electrical systems aboard U. S. civilian and military aircraft.

The two-year contract from the Federal Aviation Administration and U. S. Navy totals $1 million and calls for Eaton Aerospace to adapt the company's proprietary arc fault circuit interruption technology to the miniature circuit breakers in an aircraft's 400Hz electrical system.

Under the terms of the contract, Eaton Aerospace will develop 20 arc fault circuit interrupters, and the associated test procedures, for use on aircraft such as the DC-9, that are operated by both commercial airlines and the military. Initial target applications are for non flight-critical circuits, but ultimately the technology can be used to enhance circuit protection throughout an aircraft.

Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton president and chief operating officer said, "While the size of this technology development contract is modest by some standards, it provides the potential for significant future business. It is estimated that there are 220,000 aircraft in the nation's civilian and military fleets. More importantly, though, is the expectation that AFCI will lead to early warning of arcing originating in aircraft electrical circuits, and provide a new level of safety for passengers and aircraft flight crews."

Mechanical wear, environmental effects and thermal stress on wiring insulation in aircraft can result in intermittent, sputtering electrical arcs that could become flash points for fires. Arc fault circuit interrupters use integrated electronics to diagnose when arcing or "jumping" occurs in a wiring system, then act immediately to shut down the circuit. Because most aircraft wiring is hidden from plain view, remote detection is considered a particularly important safety feature.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have reported hundreds of potentially hazardous incidents of smoke in aircraft cabins and cockpits, and these incidents are likely to increase with the aging of the in-service aircraft fleet.

Cutler said the contracts announced today are, "a tangible demonstration of Eaton's ability to extend its technologies to multiple market applications." Eaton's Cutler-Hammer electrical equipment business unit pioneered the development of arc fault circuit interrupters for residential and commercial applications, and the company's aerospace operations are a leading manufacturer of aircraft remote control circuit breakers.

With sales in excess of $750 million annually, Eaton Aerospace is a leader in hydraulic, electro-hydraulic pump and generator products and integrated systems; electric motors; aircraft flap and slat systems; nose wheel steering systems; cockpit controls; power and load management systems; sensors; and fluid debris monitoring products. Eaton Aerospace serves commercial and military aviation, aerospace, military weapon, marine and off-road markets worldwide.

Eaton is a global manufacturer of highly engineered products that serve industrial, vehicle, construction, commercial, aerospace and semiconductor markets. Principal products include hydraulic products and fluid connectors, electrical power distribution and control equipment, truck drivetrain systems, engine components, ion implanters and a wide variety of controls. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the company has 63,000 employees and 195 manufacturing sites in 23 countries. Eaton's sales for 1999 were $8.4 billion.

This news release contains a forward-looking statement concerning the potential for significant future arc fault circuit interruption business. That statement should be used with caution. It is subject to various risks and uncertainties, some of which are outside the control of the company. Important factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statement include competing technologies and the ability to adopt existing technology to aircraft applications. We do not assume any obligation to update this forward-looking statement.



Contact Information

Renald Romain


William Hartman, vice president, Investor Relations