Actuators transform electrical signals into mechanical movement or other physical variables that play an active role in the control system, such as pressure or temperature. They perform a number of important functions such as adjusting flight control surfaces like elevators, ailerons, flaps, slats, landing gear, thrust reversers, and opening and closing cargo or weapon bay doors. In addition, they are equipped with valves that fulfill safety functions, which disrupt the flow in case of an emergency. Thus, actuators are designed with a power drive, mechanical interconnects, and feedback devices to control all these systems.
Rising urbanization, developing economies, and increasing populations have paved the path for new air routes to strengthen global connectivity. Consequently, manufacturers have started working actively on expanding their aircraft deliveries globally, which drove the production and sales of actuators. Therefore, most of the market expansion was propelled by the increased number of air passengers and improved living standards of people. In fact, according to the recent report analysis by MarkNtel Advisors, The Global Aviation Actuator Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 8.5% during 2022-27.
With the evolving trend of MEA (More Electric Aircraft), manufacturers are rapidly shifting from hydraulic actuators to electric actuators. Electrical actuators are lightweight, can be smoothly installed into existing aircraft architecture, and offer benefits such as optimized aircraft performance, enhanced fuel efficiency, no leakage, reduced maintenance costs, high power density, and energy savings. Thus, the aviation sector is witnessing an increasing development and adoption of electric actuators over other types of actuators.
Conventional electrohydraulic actuator systems need a central hydraulic power supply with hydraulic lines leading to each other. Electric signals control a servo valve to vary the amount of hydraulic fluid delivered to the actuator from the main hydraulic fluid supply.
Electrohydrostatic actuators, referred to as power by wire, are completely self-contained actuation systems that eliminate the need for a central source of hydraulic power and hydraulic plumbing. They receive power from an electric source and convert an input signal into electrical motion. They usually consist of a servomotor, hydraulic pump, accumulator, and servo actuator.
Electromechanical actuators transform electrical energy into mechanical energy. One of the major benefits of mechanical actuators is the elimination of hydraulic fluid. The absence of this liquid in the pipes leads to increased safety, saved space, reduced weight, higher energy efficiency, and lower environmental impact.
Top Most companies in Aviation Actuation
Honeywell has a high lineage in the design, development, and production of electromechanical actuators that are smaller, lighter, and cost-effective. Their actuators are built-in position sensors, integrated motor controls, and redundancy tailored to various aircraft missions.
United Technologies Corporation
UTC Aerospace Systems is the global industry leader in the manufacturing, design, and facilitation of actuation systems for large commercial, regional, business, and military aircraft and helicopters. Their range of technology includes electric and hydraulic-powered actuators and advanced carbon-fiber products for defense sectors and commercial aerospace.
Rockwell Collins, Inc.
Collins Aerospace actuation solutions assist with lightweight, durable materials to power and control an aircraft. Their products offer fundamental operational abilities that make our flights safer and more efficient. Along with that, they serve as forefronts of design, manufacture, testing, and product certification.
Parker Hannifin Corp.
Parker is a prominent manufacturer of hydraulic actuators for industrial equipment applications. Their rotary actuators provide exclusive solutions for improving high torque from a compact, precision-machined, drop-in package. They also provide electrohydraulic and electro-hydrostatic actuators, including devices such as hydraulic servo actuators, flight-control, mechanical-input, stabilizer, variable-bypass, vane, and thrust-reverser actuators or actuation systems.
In A Nutshell, aviation actuators primarily functioned mechanically through cables, gears, and rods. Eventually, these systems paved the way for hydraulic systems with levers, control columns, hydraulic cylinders, and compressed air. Thereafter, electrical technology continued to evolve and provided control levers and columns, which were gradually replaced with computerized electronics. Thus, the aviation sector is in a constant state of evolution, from engines and fueling systems to electronics, navigational instruments, and exterior design manufacturers working to offer streamlined and efficient solutions.
Further, actuator manufacturers are encouraged by a responsibility to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, thereby enhancing aircraft efficiency. Hence, computerized control systems have improved fuel control and aid in sustainability. Therefore, the regeneration of power sources on a day-to-day basis and the evolution to a greener world, as well as the realization of the consequences of global warming, prove that change is still possible.