In aviation, pressure switches and sensors are used in nearly every system aboard the aircraft. They trigger flight controls and instruments, monitor the fuel and engine systems, and are used to keep the cabin comfortable and clean. Even the pilot’s seat is equipped with a pressure sensor that detects if the pilot is sitting in it to ensure that he or she is flying the aircraft.
In modern commercial aircraft, pressure sensors such as the pitot-static system are located outside the aircraft’s cabin and are used to determine altitude, airspeed, and how the aircraft is flying. This information is critical not just for navigation purposes, but safety and economic reasons as well. Flying the aircraft too fast burns fuel too quickly, while flying too slowly will cause the aircraft to stall. Pressure switches are also used in the hydraulic systems that power the control surfaces of the aircraft, moving the ailerons, horizontal/vertical stabilizers, and spoilers to adjust the aircraft’s pitch, yaw, and roll.Landing gear systems also utilize pressure switches. When the landing gear touch down on the ground, a pressure switch will detect the aircraft’s weight on the ground and automatically trigger certain flight controls like reverse thrust.
Another key area for pressure switches is in the engines. Engines rely on pressure sensors and switches to move fuel through the engine system, and problems arise if the fuel system is over or under-pressurized. Maintaining a proper fuel-air mixture is critical for engine ignition and performance, which is dependent on knowing the proper inlet pressures, and having property safety responses to over or under-pressure.
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