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ACTUATION 2015: Modular Electro Mechanical Actuators for ACARE 2020 Aircraft and Helicopters

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Standardising aircraft electrical actuator modular technology

The all-electric aircraft is a major target for the next generation of aircraft to lower consumption of non-propulsive power and thus fuel burn. Electromechanical actuators (EMAs) must replace hydraulic systems, and ACTUATION2015 partners developed a range of standardised modules for building EMAs and to meet cost and reliability requirements from the airframers.

Transport and Mobility
Industrial Technologies

Through maximising the use of electricity to all systems, electrifying aircraft systems will lead to a significant reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. Various EU initiatives such as Clean Sky, with its System for Green Operations component, have been launched to come closer to this goal. The ACTUATION2015 (ACTUATION 2015: Modular electro mechanical actuators for ACARE 2020 aircraft and helicopters) project was launched to complete this overall approach by focusing on EMA technologies. Such actuators are necessary to eliminate hydraulic circuits, pumps and reservoirs. Project partners successfully developed and validated a common set of standardised, modular and scalable EMA modules that meet cost and reliability requirements from airframers. Compared to current single-aisle aircraft, ACTUATION2015 targeted the reduction in the overall life-cycle costs of actuators by 30 %, increase in reliability by 30 % and reduction in overall aircraft weight by 500 kg. Three types of standard modules – power drive electronics, motors and mechanics – were designed. Researchers successfully addressed the technology related to hardware EMA modules, including motor architectures, composite materials, mechatronics, new sensors and power electronics, while applying the standardisation process. Prototypes were manufactured for assessment at module and actuator levels. Individual modules and assembled EMAs were evaluated using specially developed test rigs. A major achievement was the release of the Modelica actuator library, including multilevel module modelling and standard design tools to improve the qualification process. Improved EMA reliability and availability is achieved through good design practice in combination with an integrated prognostic health and usage monitoring system. ACTUATION2015 studied methods of detecting the onset of failures, with the objective of being able to identify the need for maintenance actions before failures occur to minimise the possibility of in-flight failures. Nine virtual demonstrators were developed, including the main landing gear actuators, and the nose-wheel steering and main landing gear actuators are complete. In addition, project partners prepared four other EMA demonstrators: linear aileron, rotary spoiler, high-lift system and e-braking system. Project results will make a major contribution to the EU and aerospace industry's ambitious goals of lowering emissions while enhancing competitiveness and sustainability.

Keywords

Aircraft, electromechanical actuators, ACTUATION2015, standardised modules, airframers

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24 January 2023