“ONCE YOU HAVE TASTED FLIGHT, YOU WILL FOREVER WALK THE EARTH WITH YOUR EYES TURNED SKYWARD, FOR THERE YOU HAVE BEEN, AND THERE YOU WILL ALWAYS LONG TO RETURN.”
-LEONARDO DA VINCI
Flying is becoming a preferable mode of transport irrespective of the purpose of travel. May it be a corporate meeting or a vacation, all you need to do is book a flight, pack your bags, and then fly wherever you wish to go!… A lot of hard work and technology goes in the diverse processes involved in the aviation industry to offer you the security and comfort of flying. Navigating the aircraft and its passengers requires seamless integration of technology, skilled labor, and teamwork. The aircraft is embedded with sensors on the engine, fuel systems, landing gear, brakes, etc., which assist the pilots in various functions such as collision avoidance, airspeed measurement, path detection, and others. Wondering how the aircraft sensors enable pilots to manage all the diverse aspects of flying an aircraft…Then keep reading to understand how the different types of sensors streamline a few elements in the complicated process of flying an aircraft.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common aircraft sensors used in a commercial aircraft:
These sensors enable the pilot to calculate the true airspeed based on temperature data, pitot tube, and static pressure.
These sensors measure the changes in static air pressure enabling pilots to determine the altitude of the aircraft.
Compasses and Magnetometers
These devices measure the earth’s magnetic fields and are extremely useful in determining the direction where the aircraft is headed.
Gyroscopes are used for determining the direction and controlling the turning, as well as the attitude of the aircraft.
Attitude Heading and Reference Systems
Attitude Heading and Reference Systems (AHRS) receive data from the magnetometers, accelerometers, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Global Positioning System (GPS), and information regarding the attitude of an aircraft.
These sensors monitor quantities of liquid coolant fluid and lubrication oil in the fuel transfer and bleed air systems.
Force and Vibration Sensors
Force and vibration sensors measure the torque and force in braking, actuation systems, and flight controls.
Pressure sensors monitor the pressure in braking, raising and lowering the landing gear, engine oil, oxygen tanks, heating and coolant fluids, and hydraulic systems.
Position sensors include the rotary variable differential transformers (RVDTs) and linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs), which sense the displacement of aircraft components.
Temperature sensors include Wheatstone bridge indicators, thermometers, thermocouples, bi-metallic temperature gauges, etc., which monitor the conditions of fuels, hydraulic oils, environmental cooling systems, and refrigerants in the aircraft.
Tachometers sense the variations in magnetic field flux density, by assessing the rotating gear wheels, which move at the same speed as compressor shafts traveling through the probes’ magnetic field. Thus, the voltage signals provided by these tachometers are directly proportional to the speed of the engine in the aircraft.
The aircraft is implanted with several other sensors including oxygen sensors, sound sensors, laser sensors, barometer, direction indicators, etc. The cockpit of an aircraft has computer systems that receive data from these various sensors that are embedded in the different locations of an aircraft. The computer processes the inputs received from these sensors and transmits the information to displays in the cockpit after applying relevant compensating factors. The pilots are continuously monitoring the status of the engine and environment from the cockpits, which enables them to take the required actions based on the information conveyed by these indicators on their system.