Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


PIBRAC — Result In Brief

Project ID: 516111
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: France

New smart aircraft braking system

EU-funding enabled researchers to develop novel aircraft brake systems based on ‘smart’ materials, significantly reducing weight and power consumption.
New smart aircraft braking system
The braking system of an aircraft is a critical safety component, ensuring the airplane will stop within a short distance relative to the high speed it is travelling when it touches down on the runway.

Hydraulic brakes are essentially mechanical components. They rely on pressures and fluids to induce braking – in the car, a brake pedal generates pressure in the brake fluid to slow the tire’s motion. Strictly hydraulic brake systems impose safety risks and maintenance expenses that have led to the development of electromechanical components.

Electromechanical actuators (EMAs) essentially transmit the rotational energy of an electrical motor into mechanical force to do some kind of work. In the case of aircraft brake systems, EMAs have been used with conventional electric motors and reduction gears.

The combination of EMA with standard equipment has led to a system weight increase and very high peak power consumption as a result of high frequency actuator function during anti-skid operation mode.

European researchers identified the need to develop novel actuators to be used with electromagnetic motors for aircraft brake systems. They initiated the ‘Piezo brake actuator’ (Pibrac) project to develop a ‘smart’ brake actuator enabling a tremendous reduction in weight and peak power demand as well as important increases in safety.

Smart materials are those that respond to certain stimuli in an intelligent way much as a living organism responds to environmental stimuli. Piezoelectric materials respond to small changes in pressure (deformation) by generating a current and, conversely, by increasing volume in response to an applied current.

Scientists used piezoelectric materials to design and manufacture two prototype piezoelectric actuators with power and control electronics. The Pibrac system performed better than conventional EMAs.

Continued research may enable new modes of operation of the Pibrac piezoelectric actuators as well as facilitate cost reductions.

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