1: Advantages and disadvantages of hydraulic system of aircraft
Hydraulic systems are used for operation of different components of small and large aircrafts, including: flight control surfaces, brakes, constant-speed propellers, landing gear, thrust reversers, spoilers and wing flaps. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of these systems are discussed below.
Uses incompressible fluid: hydraulic systems use incompressible fluids that results to greater, more efficient and consistent power output or force. This also results to minimal energy loss as all energy is transferred to the required area of the aircraft.
Force multiplication: hydraulic systems use a small amount of hydraulic fluid to multiply small forces into large or unlimited forces and transmit them efficiently to remote areas of the aircraft where they are required. The pilot only requires to apply a small force that is then multiplied into a large force to perform the required function.
Simple design and easy to install: hydraulic systems have a simple design comprising of few components that are very easy to install and maintain.
Efficiency: precise aircraft control is very important especially during critical flight conditions. Hydraulic systems are able to respond efficiently and very quickly to control inputs (MacCready, 2017). Pilots rely on these systems to perform different flight control functions without any worry on whether they will respond or the time they will take.
Reliability and dependability: hydraulic systems operate on very simple mechanical principles. They have very few moving parts that significantly reduce failure risks. This increases the efficiency, reliability and dependability of hydraulic systems.
Less space and easy to maintain: hydraulic systems comprise of few moving components. This reduces space requirements of these systems and also makes their maintenance to be easy. Less components also makes hydraulic systems to be cost-effective to install and maintain.
Lightweight: hydraulic systems are also lighter than most of the other mechanical systems of an aircraft.
Shock hazard free: hydraulic systems do not require electricity in order to function. As a result of this, hydraulic systems are not vulnerable to shock hazards and there likelihood of fire hazards are very low (Simkins, 2012). This makes them safer than most of other mechanical systems.
The fluid used in hydraulic systems is highly pressurized thus it poses risks such as burns and bruises if the fluid leaks and gets in contact with human body.
Hydraulic systems are susceptible to leaks thus require frequent checks and maintenance.
Hydraulic pipes can burst resulting to series injuries to humans
If a leakage occurs in hydraulic systems particularly in hot conditions, the hydraulic fluid can catch fire.
2: Maintenance requirements of hydraulic system of aircraft
Hydraulic systems require proper and frequent maintenance for them to perform their expected functions efficiently. The following are some of their maintenance requirements:
Hydraulic filter changes: the hydraulic filter has to be changed regularly so as to ensure that it is able to filter the fluid properly.
Hydraulic fluid changes: the hydraulic fluid also has to be changed regularly. A sample of this fluid should be taken for analysis to establish if it has to be changed or not. The more the fluid is used the less efficient it becomes. The fluid must also be filtered so as to get rid of unwanted particles before being added to the system.
Contaminants check: contaminants should be kept out of the hydraulic system at all times. This can be achieved by regularly cleaning areas surrounding the dipsticks, hydraulic filters and fill plugs. Hydraulic fluid containers should also be sealed tightly to prevent entry of contaminants.
Hydraulic fluid temperature check: the temperature of hydraulic fluid should be checked during operation to ensure that it is within desired range. It should not be too hot or smell burned. The reservoir or hydraulic oil cooler should be kept clean and free from any debris to prevent overheating.
Pump inspection: the pump of hydraulic system should be checked regularly for any damages, wear, tear or cavitation. The pump’s inlet lines, filter and fluid level should also be checked to identify and correct any defects.
Valves check: all valves of the hydraulic system should be inspected to ensure that they do not restrict flow of hydraulic fluid.
Others: the following maintenance requirements are also important: inspecting lines and hoses, checking hose routing, checking couplings, keeping hoses clean, etc. In general, maintenance requirements of hydraulic systems encompass performing diagnostic tests so as to ensure that all components and materials are working properly (Sarnicola, 2012).
Maintenance of hydraulic systems is very important for various reasons. First, it improves efficiency of hydraulic systems by keeping their performance and efficiency at optimum. Second, it increases safety of all persons on-board, including the pilots, crew and passengers. Third, it eliminates inconveniences of having to perform maintenance in the middle of the flight. Fourth, it increases durability of hydraulic systems by avoiding damages, wear and tear. Fifth, it prevents extra repair costs by ensuring that all components of the hydraulic systems are repaired before they get damaged. If the required maintenance is not done properly then the whole hydraulic system of the aircraft will fail. The maintenance should also be carried out by qualified persons and in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer.
MacCready, M. (2017, January 20). Aviation hydraulics - what is it and how does it work? Retrieved from FlyTek Labs: https://flyteklabs.com/2017/01/20/aviation-hydraulics-2/
Sarnicola, J. (2012, December 11). Advantages of hydraulics for motion bases. Retrieved from Hydraulics & Pneumatics: https://www.hydraulicspneumatics.com/hydraulic-pumps-amp-motors/advantages-hydraulics-motion-bases
Simkins, C. (2012, April 19). The role of hydraulic actuators within aircraft systems. Retrieved from Acorn: https://www.acorn-ind.co.uk/insight/The-role-of-hydraulic-actuators-within-aircraft-systems/
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