Honeywell Develops Self-Diagnosing Sensors

The new series of self-diagnosing sensors are designed to improve the performance of aircraft systems and reduce maintenance costs associated with false readings.

Honeywell has developed a series of self-diagnosing aircraft sensors that can detect whether an aircraft-system error reading from a sensor is correct or if it results from damage to or some other problem with the sensor itself.

Honeywell's patented Integral Health Monitoring (IHM) proximity sensors can be used in a range of aircraft systems such as thrust reverser actuation systems, flight controls, aircraft doors, cargo loading systems, evacuation slide locks and landing gear, according to the company.

“Aircraft operators who receive a sensor reading often cannot be sure if they have a system issue that needs to be addressed or if the sensor itself is malfunctioning,” says Graham Robinson, president of Honeywell's Sensing and Internet of Things business, which produces more than 50,000 sensing products for a range of industries.

“Leveraging Honeywell's technical expertise in the aerospace industry, we innovated a circuit that can detect whether a sensor reading is correct or the result of damage or some other problem with the sensor itself,” thus reducing uncertainty for the aircraft operator, says Robinson.

As an example, proximity sensors in aircraft landing gear systems provide pilots with a fault alert during a landing approach to warn if the landing gear is not completely deployed. When installed in landing gear units, Honeywell's IHM proximity sensors can indicate if such an error message is being caused by the sensor itself rather than an issue with the landing gear.

The proximity sensors are configurable, non-contact devices which Honeywell has designed to sense the presence or absence of a target in harsh-duty aircraft applications, such as determining when a thrust reverser is not fully closed.

According to Honeywell, the IHM sensors can detect most internal failures in aircraft systems and display a fault output to pilots or maintenance workers in order to help reduce aircraft downtime and maintenance costs.

“With our health monitoring capabilities, proximity sensors can notify engineers or operators of potential issues with a system before or after the component fails,” says Robinson. “The sensor fault-detection provides mechanics on the ground with the information they need to perform inspections and repairs without a long and costly troubleshooting process.”

Honeywell has also introduced a line of Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT) sensors.

These new sensors are used in engine mechanisms, pilot controls and nose-wheel steering applications. They provide next-generation aircraft with continuous position monitoring and are designed for use in harsh environments.

Honeywell is now incorporating LVDT sensors into the aircraft systems it manufactures and the sensors can also be installed in aircraft equipment produced by other component and system manufacturers, according to the company.

For both new sensor classes Honeywell offers design engineering support and a standard design platform in which the sensor-integration engineering work is performed up-front to provide off-the-shelf solutions to speed up customer design-cycle times.

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