To ensure that aircraft electronics and other electrically-powered equipment will operate reliably once in the air, you must test them under extreme power conditions. In the military world, MIL-STD-704 (now up to rev. F), “Aircraft Electric Power Characteristics,” establishes the requirements and characteristics of aircraft electric power. This standard is not only used by the U.S. military and military contractors, but has also been adopted, either directly or indirectly, worldwide. For example, the Chinese standard, GJB 181, Characteristics of aircraft electrical power supplies and requirements for utilization equipment, is largely based on MIL-STD-704.

MIL-STD-704 actually defines the power characteristics of an aircraft electric power system, not the test requirements. Section 5.2, for example, describes AC power characteristics. 5.2.1 says, “AC systems shall provide electrical power using single-phase or three-phase wire-connected grounded neutral systems. The voltage waveform shall be a sine wave with a nominal voltage of 115/200 volts and a nominal frequency of 400 Hz.” It also describe three alternative power systems, including a variable frequency system, a double-voltage system and a single-phase, 60 Hz system. Section 5.2 goes on to describe the phase sequence for three-phase systems, normal operation, abnormal operation, and emergency operation characteristics. A series of tables lists the specifications.

Even though we call the tests performed to ensure that equipment will perform properly on board an aircraft “MIL-STD-704 tests,” the standard does not describe any tests. For guidance on testing, there is a series of handbooks that specify tests for different types of input power. These include:

  • MIL-HDBK-704-1, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics

  • MIL-HDBK-704-2, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, Single Phase, 400 Hz, 115 Volt

  • MIL-HDBK-704-3, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, Three Phase, 400 Hz, 115 Volt

  • MIL-HDBK-704-4, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, Single Phase, Variable Frequency, 115 Volt

  • MIL-HDBK-704-5, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, Three Phase, Variable Frequency, 115 Volt

  • MIL-HDBK-704-6, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, Single Phase, 60 Hz, 115 Volt

  • MIL-HDBK-704-7, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, 270 VDC

  • MIL-HDBK-704-8, Guidance for Test Procedures for Demonstration of Utilization Equipment Compliance to Aircraft Electrical Power Characteristics, 28 VDC

These documents, including MIL-STD-704 (revisions A through F) are available online at EverySpec.Com. For information on how to use AMETEK power sources to run MIL-STD-704, contact AMETEK Programmable Power. You can send an e-mail to sales.ppd@ametek.com or phone 800-733-5427.

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