Hydraulic systems are common to aircraft, ensuring that landing gear, brakes, flaps, thrust reversers, flight controls, and other systems can be operated without full reliance on one’s own strength. Requiring only a small amount of fluid, more force than a pneumatic system may be achieved with ease for high reliability. To better understand how airplane hydraulics are used, we will discuss their design, implementation, and functionality.
Whether using a pneumatic system or a hydraulic system, both assemblies rely on a compressed fluid for the transfer of power. While pneumatic systems rely on compressed gas or air, hydraulics employ compressed liquids that are enclosed. Unlike pneumatic systems, hydraulics are not as sensitive to vibration, and their precision allows for high efficiency. As liquids are less compressible as compared to gases, there is no delay in movements. Additionally, compressor parts are not required. Instead, hydraulic compressors utilize pistons, pumps, cylinders, and other various components. Alongside the transmission of force, hydraulic oil and fluids may also act as a coolant and lubricant for the benefit of the aircraft.
As of the present, three main types of hydraulic oil are used for aircraft operations, each of which differ slightly in their implementation. Vegetable oil is quite common, produced from alcohol and castor oil to create a blue colored mixture. As corrosion and sludge may occur with vegetable oil, such types mostly only find use in older aircraft. Synthetic oil is also common, consisting of man-made phosphate ester that exhibits a purple, amber, or green color. Due to the nature of such oils, they run the risk of degrading wiring and other aviation components. The final primary oil type is mineral oil which is a kerosene petrochemical product that is dyed red. With high lubrication characteristics and the ability to deter foaming and corrosion, such oil is very stable and beneficial for many applications.
Depending upon the aircraft in question and the various equipment that is present on it, hydraulic systems may play various different roles. For small aircraft, the hydraulic system may be used for the operation of aircraft brakes, landing gear, and constant speed propellers. For larger aircraft, on the other hand, hydraulics may benefit the operations of wing flaps, spoilers, flight controls, and much more.
Regardless of whether a hydraulic system is present on a small or large aircraft, the basic components that make such assemblies up often remain the same. Generally, hydraulic systems rely on a reservoir, pump, oil filter, control valve, actuator, relief valve, and heat exchanger that all work together for optimal operations. Additionally, there are also many subsystems that are present to ensure all required tasks are carried out in the instance that the main hydraulic system fails.
Despite their small number of parts, hydraulic systems are highly reliable and do not regularly face issues. They also provide rapid response times for control, meaning that actuation is fast enough to improve the efficiency and safety of the aircraft. Despite these advantages, hydraulic systems are limited in their service lives, meaning that they must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that all parts function as intended or are replaced as necessary. If you find that you need various aviation components for your hydraulic system, let the experts at ASAP NSN Parts help you secure everything you need with ease.
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