Current aircraft utilize at least a few hydraulic systems that are in charge of various aspects of the successful operation of the aircraft. There are multiple applications for hydraulic use in aircraft, depending on the complexity of the aircraft.
A hydraulic system, for example, is commonly employed on small planes to operate wheel brakes, retractable landing gear, and some constant-speed propellers. A hydraulic system is utilized for flight control surfaces, wing flaps, spoilers, and other systems on big airplanes.
A simple hydraulic system consists of a reservoir, a pump (either hand, electric, or engine-driven), a filter to keep the fluid clean, a selector valve to control the direction of flow, a relief valve to alleviate excess pressure, and an actuator.
Aircraft’s hydraulic system
Hydraulic systems are the heart of an airplane’s systems and are essential for a smooth flight and proper aircraft operation. Simply said, a hydraulic system is utilized to move mechanical parts or operate machines by applying pressure to a fluid.
The majority of an aircraft’s equipment, including the landing gear, brakes, flaps, thrust reversers, and flight controls, is operated by the aircraft hydraulics. As a result, the hydraulic system moves and activates the key and fundamental components.
Why are hydraulics used in aircraft?
Because the hydraulic system is so important to the operation of an airplane, all aircraft use some hydraulically powered components because of the multiple advantages these components can give. Even in the past, hydraulic systems in the form of hydraulic brakes were still used in aircraft.
Hydraulic systems are utilized in small general aviation aircraft to supply pressure to trigger the wheel brakes, as well as to operate the retractable landing gear and a few constant-speed propellers. Regardless of the size or shape of the aircraft, the basic concepts and functionality of the hydraulic systems are the same.
The hydraulic system is convenient and effective for aircraft of all types, since it is very dependable and gives the ideal amount of pressure without requiring a lot of hydraulic fluid to function.
Depending on the aircraft type and size, a single hydraulic system or two or more hydraulic systems might collaborate to provide a smooth and safe flight.
The different types of hydraulic systems in aircraft
The aircraft hydraulic system has two types, namely the Basic hydraulic system and the Power hydraulic system.
The Basic hydraulic system
consists of the basic components: the reservoir, pumps, valves, and many more. This hydraulic system has two further working approaches; the open coil hydraulic system and the closed coil hydraulic system.
In the open coil system, there is no pressure within the system, but only the fluid flows, due to which the actuator in the system remains idle. The pump forces the fluid in the circuit, and it flows from the reservoir through the selector valves, which are in series with each other and then return to the reservoir.
In the closed coil system, the fluid is under pressure, and three actuators work parallel to each other, along with the valves that are also in parallel. This causes the pressure to vary.
The Power hydraulic system
The other type of hydraulic systems is the Power hydraulic system, which is the latest modification of hydraulic systems. This hydraulic power system is a small-unit system of the pump, filters, reservoir, valves, and relief valve.
While it eliminates the use of heavy components and hydraulic fluids, it also provides a power supply to flight control popular in modern aircraft.
Airplane hydraulic fluid is a unique technical liquid that is utilized to distribute force across the plane’s numerous components. The hydraulic systems transmit its energy via the fluid, which conveys power between components. Additionally, the fluid serves as a coolant, lubricates the system’s parts, and precisely transmits pressure.
It must have excellent thermal capacity, a high flash point, enough viscosity to fill aluminum pipes, thermal stability, and anti-corrosion qualities. Vegetable oil, which is normally only found in older aircraft and comprises castor oil and alcohol, synthetic oil, and mineral oil are the three main forms of hydraulic oil. The most sophisticated and often used hydraulic fluid in aviation is called Skydrol.
The Perks of Aviation Hydraulics
Dependability and reliability are perhaps the hydraulic system’s biggest advantages. When given control inputs, hydraulic systems react immediately and effectively. Being able to control the aircraft precisely is of utmost importance for safety, given the delicate nature of aeronautical flight.
The pilot must be able to perform flight control actions without worrying about whether they will occur or how long they will take, especially in stressful flight scenarios.
Another significant advantage of hydraulic systems is that, unlike air, which compresses as a result of climatic change, hydraulic fluid is not vulnerable to compression. Because of the dynamic pressure changes that take place as an aircraft climbs or descends in altitude, this is a crucial factor to take into account.
Finally, hydraulic systems provide increased efficiency and response. There is little to no delay at all between a pilot inputting a command, and the system responds. This is particularly important for air-force pilots, who may be required to execute precise flight maneuvers at a moment’s notice.
Hydraulic systems offer the dependability, reliability, efficiency, and response that help modern aircraft continue to push the limits.