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Mini BLDC Motors for Flight Control Systems

May 18, 2023

Though small in size, brushless DC mini motors serve a variety of critical roles in today’s commercial and military aircraft. From delivering active force feedback to the pilot, thus reducing pilot workload and strain, to providing key inputs on controls inside the cockpit, motion solutions deliver the power and reliability behind flight control systems. We explore how these systems rely on brushless DC motors below.

What are Flight Control Systems?

Flight control systems consist of both pilot controls inside the cockpit and movable aerodynamic surfaces, including Side Stick Units (SSU), Rudder Pedals/Rudder Brake Pedal Unit (RBPU), Throttle Control Assembly (TCA)/Throttle Control Quarter (TCQ), Autopilot/Auto-Throttle, and Smart Actuators. These systems also are responsible for connecting linkages, actuators, and computer/software to control an aircraft's direction in flight.

Flight Control Systems & Motion Solutions: What to Consider

The critical nature of flight control systems necessitates that the miniature motors utilized be highly reliable and precise. Space and weight constraints mean that the motor must be compact and lightweight, as well as power-dense; this is known as optimizing the SWaP, or space, weight, and power, of the motion solution. Additional considerations to consider include:

  • High reliability and long lifetime
  • Design flexibility and customization options
  • Low cogging torque and low inertia for quick start and stop
  • Ability to meet standards for harsh environments (ruggedness)
  • Low EMI to avoid malfunctions and/or interference with other avionic devices

Brushless DC Motors Power Flight Control Systems

Brushless DC motors are best suited for flight control systems due to their inherent power density, energy efficiency, and precise speed/position control when used in conjunction with a feedback device such as a hall sensor, encoder, or resolver. Depending on specific application requirements, you may also choose either BLDC slotted designs for robustness or BLDC slotless designs for weight savings and simplicity. Minimum cogging and high output torque are additional benefits of these mini motors.

Portescap’s extensive product portfolio features a variety of brushless DC motors that are ideal for this application. The Ultra EC BLDC slotless motors provide natural force feedback due to their low inertia & high dynamic characteristics, while the newly launched slotted BLDC flat ECF motors deliver an innovative solution in a unique, compact package. Accessories like gearheads and encoders also ensure that more torque or a greater degree of feedback are supplied.

Portescap’s Consultative, Collaborative Design Approach

Pilots, passengers, and crew shouldn’t be concerned with their aircraft’s flight controls performing exactly as they are intended, nor should design engineers worry about selecting the best option for the motion solutions powering these systems. That’s where Portescap’s consultative design approach comes into play! We pride ourselves on open, honest engagement with our customers, as well as strong E2E collaboration, to propose the optimum solution that meets – or exceeds – all performance requirements. Combined with our capability to support integrated solutions and the breadth of our product offerings, we look forward to working with you to design the exact motion solutions your flight control systems need.

Reach out to us here to start collaborating!