Aircraft Actuators and the Actuation System

When operating moving systems within an aircraft, actuators serve as components capable of converting electrical signals into physical variables. With the ability to utilize actuation to create mechanical movement, pressure, or temperature, actuators can ensure that flight control surfaces and other equipment pieces operate correctly and efficiently. In this blog, we will discuss aircraft actuators more in detail, allowing you to understand how they function and where they are commonly implemented.

In its most basic form, an actuator is a machine component that is capable of controlling a mechanism as a “mover”. To achieve this operation, the component requires a source of energy, that of which may be electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic. Regardless of the energy source, the receival of a control signal will cause the actuator to transform the energy into mechanical motion.

When an actuator is hydraulically powered, it will feature either a cylinder or fluid motor that allows for the harnessing of fluids to achieve mechanical operations. With the ability to conduct linear, rotatory, or oscillatory movement, the actuator may be used for the actuation of a variety of systems and equipment pieces. Furthermore, a hydraulic actuation assembly can achieve high amounts of force for actuation due to the incompressible characteristics of liquids.

Pneumatic actuator assemblies are those that utilize pressurized gases, and they provide high amounts of actuation force from a small amount of pressure change. Due to their rapid starting and stopping speeds and their ability to function without stored power sources, pneumatic actuator assemblies are often used for equipment such as engine controls and other such components. With their relatively cheap price as compared to other actuators, the pneumatic actuator is often popularly used. Despite their advantages, pneumatics do require various components to transport, pressurize, and filter out gases, and thus an assembly may be more complex.

Since the 1960s, the advancement of electricity has led to the creation of various electric actuators, including those such as the electromechanical actuator, electrohydraulic actuator, and linear motor. The electromechanical actuator is one that harnesses electrical energy to drive either a belt or screw. With long service lives and high accuracy, such electric actuators are quite useful for a number of assemblies. With the electrohydraulic actuator, an electric motor serves as the prime mover while driving a hydraulic accumulator. With the force transmitted through such components, they are often used for electric-powered construction equipment and other heavy equipment pieces. Lastly, the linear motor is a type that can produce a linear force alongside its length, and they exhibit high service lives due to their low friction loss operation.

As aircraft actuators, a variety of actuator components are implemented on aircraft in order to drive systems and carry out mechanical movements. With aircraft actuators, pilots can operate and govern systems and components such as flaps, slats, spoilers, elevators, rudders, ailerons, and more. Additionally, actuators are responsible for the extension and retraction of landing gear, operating cargo doors, positioning engine thrust reversers, and other systems. While early aircraft utilized mechanical means for actuation, modern models have since moved on to hydraulically or electrically powered systems to ensure accurate operations and optimal amounts of force.

Through the use of various aircraft actuators and actuation assemblies, a pilot can carry out flight operations with ease. When you are searching for premium actuator assembly components and actuation ring parts that you can steadily rely on, Aerospace Buying has everything you need and more. As a premier purchasing platform serving the aerospace industry, we provide competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on a variety of new, used, and obsolete items that we offer. Get started today on the purchasing process when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website.


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March 22, 2021

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