Without them, it is impossible to fly. They are found everywhere in an aircraft, and yet they are unknown to the general public. Actuators are mechanisms that connect the cockpit controls to various moving parts of the ‘plane, thus controlling its flight, and ground movements.
Michael Rottach, Electromechanical actuators Technical Manager, Liebherr-Aerospace: "The pilot’s controls (in modern aircraft) activate actuators. This may be the landing gear’s extension / retraction lever, or the control yoke or joystick to move the control surfaces, such as spoilers or flaps."
Today, these actuators are operated by hydraulic fluid, but that could soon change. Liebherr-Aerospace engineers in Bavaria are developing a prototype electromechanical actuator. A system initially intended for landing gear mechanisms.
Heiko Lütjens, Managing Director & Chief Technical Officer - Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS: interview in the video.
More effective, this type of actuator should reduce fuel and maintenance costs, compared to a hydraulic actuator, such as this one. Funded in part by the European programme, Clean Sky, and the German State, Liebherr is looking far into the future and preparing for large-scale commercialization. "Everything we will need in the future to manufacture electromechanical actuators, we have installed on our production lines. So we are highly flexible, and can very easily turn the hydraulic actuator assembly lines into those for electromechanical assembly" explains Heiko Lütjens.
Liebherr’s foresight should soon be paying off, since discussions with aircraft manufacturers are already underway.