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Self-Diagnosing Sensors Could Change the Way We Fly

Aug. 13, 2017
False sensor readings in aircraft can lead to maintenance costs and redirected flights that otherwise could have been avoided.

While a recent study shows that many drivers will ignore the "check engine" light, pilots can't do the same without compromising the safety of their passengers. Therefore, sensor reliability is critical to reducing costs of maintenance, troubleshooting, and redirected flights associated with false readings in aircraft systems.

Honeywell addresses the demand for reliable aircraft sensing with its Integral Health Monitoring (IHM) series proximity sensors. The units include an internal circuit that can determine whether sensor readings are true to actual system operations, or caused by issues within the sensors themselves. The sensors can also send specific diagnostics to the ground, allowing mechanics to prepare to perform repairs quickly and reducing time needed for troubleshooting.

"The sensors can detect most internal failures and display a fault output to a pilot or maintenance worker in order to help reduce aircraft downtime and maintenance costs," the company reports. 

In addition to proximity sensors used mainly for thrust reverser actuation systems, flight controls, aircraft doors, and landing gear, Honeywell also introduced its Linear Variable Differential Transformers (LVDTs) for engine mechanisms, pilot controls, and nose-wheel steering applications. While both use non-contact sensing, LVDTs differ from proximity sensors in that they provide continuous position monitoring, rather than just a binary signal that indicates the presence of an external metal body. 

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