Small But Mighty
As we all know, hundreds of complex systems and parts go into making sure airplanes fly successfully. Most of us probably think about the engines, cabin pressure, or landing gear. But how about an aircraft actuator? No? Well, it’s a great time to learn about something new!
An aircraft actuator may not be the largest equipment in the aircraft, but it’s essential for controlling multiple systems while in the air. Find out below what an aircraft actuator does and the 3 different types found in aerospace manufacturing.
What Is an Aircraft Actuator?
Believe it or not, an airplane actuator is one of the most important pieces of an airplane. It doesn’t have one specific purpose or function but rather controls multiple different systems. In simple terms, an actuator is a device that receives power and converts the control signal into motion.
It still sounds a bit confusing, but think about it like this. The most common forms of energy used on airplanes are electricity, hydraulics, and pneumatics (air). That energy needs to be converted to create mechanical motion to operate the larger systems.
An aircraft actuator is responsible for numerous systems such as adjusting flight control surfaces, extending and retracting landing gear, and opening and closing cargo bay doors. When you hear about an aircraft actuator controlling these important systems, it’s easier to understand why it’s so crucial.
There are 3 different types of aircraft actuators in aerospace manufacturing: a solenoid valve actuator, electromechanical actuator, and mechanical actuator.
#1 Solenoid Valve Actuator
A solenoid valve actuator is an electromechanically operated valve that is often paired with electromechanical actuators. The solenoid valve actuator is used whenever an aircraft needs automated fluid flow and pressure. It is the most frequently used control element in fluidics to shut off, release, distribute, or mix fluids.
Solenoid valve actuator manufacturers create the valves for the aerospace industry to use for starting aircraft engines and evacuation systems. A solenoid valve actuator can vary in its characteristics of electric current used, mechanisms used to regulate fluid, and the type of fluid it controls.
#2 Electromechanical Actuator
An electromechanical actuator is unique because it’s an upgrade from a simple mechanical actuator. Electromechanical actuators use an electric motor to create rotary motion that is converted to linear displacement. Older mechanical actuators used a control knob instead of the newer electric motor.
The ideal electromechanical actuator will be lightweight and offer exceptional torque and mechanical efficiency. These actuators have a long life-cycle and require little maintenance, making them an ideal actuator for performance.
#3 Mechanical Actuator
The most common aircraft actuator is the mechanical actuator, also known as a linear actuator. A mechanical actuator turns control signals and energy into a linear motion. Once the motion has been converted, the speed can be changed as well.
Systems such as engaging and retracting landing gear and activating airplane flaps all depend on mechanical actuators. Like all the other actuators, aircrafts could not operate without a precise aircraft actuator in each system.
How To Find an Aircraft Actuator Manufacturer
If you’re in the aerospace manufacturing industry and want to find an aircraft actuator manufacturer, there are a few factors for you to consider. You’ll want to find a manufacturer that will work with you throughout the entire process. That includes the design, engineering, and manufacturing process. This manufacturer should listen to all of your requests in each of those categories. As always, do your research to find the best aircraft actuator manufacturer.