Women, wiring and high fashion
Like in a haute-couture dress, the wiring is hidden from view under the aircraft's apparel.
The wires invisibly running through the fuselage are one of the essential elements of aircraft architecture. Woven together on production sites all over the world, they undergo rigorous quality testing and are handled with unrivaled dedication by the fitters, showcasing Safran Electrical & Power's status as a house of haute-couture aerospace.
In the course of assembly, the harnesses and wiring go from high-caliber manufacturing to high-fashion design.
It all starts (unlike fashion shows) from the warehouse, when the manufacturing file defines the process, in the manner of a sketch by a great designer.
Next, materials every bit as refined as silk, lace, linen or satin are selected according to needs: tinned copper, silver, nickel, aluminum or ceramic. All the cables are handled with great care.
Then, in the manner of seasoned tailors, the operators will take measurements and make cuts. And to recognize these precious pieces, each harness will be marked by a label.
The process, which is every bit as meticulous as eyeing a needle, involves stripping, plugging and crimping during the first phase.
Then comes the delicate step of lacing the dress: spread out on jig boards, these digital plans that display the overall organization of the system to be mounted, the fitters busy themselves routing the harnesses. Once the wires have been threaded through the plan, the fitting is almost finalized. The crowning moment of the show is the connection test.
Unique and customized wiring is the hallmark of haute-couture aerospace design. Although this work remains hidden from view, the cabling teams responsible for this final result are essential to Safran Electrical & Power's business.
In some workshops, up to 80% of the fitters are female. They bring care, rigor and precision to the manufacture of all the cables present in an aircraft, both during the board and fiber optics stages. Small hands are in fact necessary for the meticulous tasks involved in the process. But it is also thanks to their qualities of observation, attention and diligence that these women are recruited in large numbers at Safran Electrical & Power. To evaluate the skills of these future aerospace seamstresses, candidates undergo five tests during the recruitment process. This series of tests – "Piórkowski" tests on the speed of threading and assembling perforated washers on a pin, and tests relating to plug assembly, screwing and 3D observation – highlights candidates' stress levels, their patience, speed of execution, attentiveness to instructions, precision and dexterity, motor skills and even their ability to read the color spectrum.
As the numbers clearly show and while far from self-evident, at Safran Electrical & Power, women are clearly the strong sex when it comes to haute-couture wiring.