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Silicon sensors for improved flight safety

Enhancing aviation safety has come a long way with new technologies. Once again, research and know-how have banded together to take safety levels to new heights.
Silicon sensors for improved flight safety
The 'High stability altimeter system for transponders and air data computers' (Hastac) project set out to improve on safety across the range of flight situations, and low visibility situations in particular. The EU-funded project developed a new altimetry pressure transducer superior to those currently available. For use in air data computers (ADCs) for aircraft applications, he project's results are relevant to auto pilot situations and manual flying situations in darkness and low visibility.

Project partners developed over 800 sensors in 40 different versions. Knowledge generated in efforts to identify the potential causes for drift mechanisms was used to design the new SP83 pressure sensor. This is a key element in the TP4000 transducer, which is embedded in a batch of modified ADCs. Initial performance testing revealed promising results, while lab test data supported impressive results from the transducer tests. The sensors and transducers, suitable for fixed wing and rotary wing applications, showed significantly improved altitude long-term stability capabilities in comparison to the existing models. These will also be available for other application areas such as cabin pressure control systems.

The Hastac project outcomes demonstrate enhanced know-how and competence in the industry's micro-electromechanical systems (MEMSs) pressure sensor field. These offer better knowledge of silicon MEMS structures for avionic use and basic silicon sensing structures that can be applied to other demanding aerospace applications. The new MEMSCAP SP83/TP4000 barometric pressure sensor has the potential to generate more business and offers aircrafts improved accuracy in monitoring altitude.

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