Proper maintenance and upkeep of aviation hydraulic systems can be tricky business. It requires a strong understanding of how each component works as well as the role they play in the system as a whole. Hydraulics are key in the operation of many parts of an aircraft, from flap extensions to stabilizer trims and wheel brakes. As aviators and passengers alike rely on peak performance from their aircraft with minimum downtime, aviation systems must be held to high standards while adhering to a tight schedule.
Although aviation hydraulic systems and components sound like an intricate and complex concept, it is relatively straightforward. The hydraulic system uses a pressurized fluid, known either as hydraulic fluid or hydraulic oil, to move critical aircraft components such as landing gear, cargo doors, ailerons and more. It works on the principle of fluid mechanics from Pascal’s Law which states that liquid in an enclosed environment can be used to transfer pressure.
There are five key aspects of an aircraft’s hydraulic system. They are the hydraulic fluid, hydraulic cylinders, hydraulic motors, hydraulic pumps, and hydraulic plumbing. Hydraulic fluid or oil is the liquid used to transmit pressure throughout the hydraulic system, as well as providing lubricant for other components within the system. The hydraulic cylinders are a type of actuator with a piston rod that moves linearly in response to hydraulic pressure. Hydraulic motors take pressure and convert it into torque. Within the hydraulic system, the motor’s chief role is to drive the jackscrews that operate key flight control surfaces.
Hydraulic pumps are the driving force that moves the fluid through the hydraulic system, and both gear and piston pumps can be found in a given system. Gear pumps move a fixed amount of fluid per rotation, while piston pumps can adjust their output based on system demand. Finally, hydraulic plumbing components are crucial to the performance of the hydraulic system. These components ease the process of flow and include hydraulic lines, reservoirs, accumulators, filters, fuses, and many different valves. Every section of the hydraulic system plays a pivotal part in ensuring the safety and efficiency of an aircraft’s mechanical function.
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