Providing aircraft pilots with their primary means of controlling altitude and attitude, flight control surfaces are vital aerodynamic devices on fixed-wing aircraft of any size or design.
Before a plane takes flight, accurate dimensional measurement is required to calibrate the zero position of primary flight control surfaces such as the ailerons, elevator and rudder, as well as secondary control surfaces including slats, flaps and spoilers. Inclination measurement is also used to perform functional system testing on the inclination of the aircraft’s flight control surfaces relative to the pilots’ lever position.
Due to the height of an assembled aircraft structure, measuring the vertical and horizontal inclination of wing-mounted flight control surfaces like slats, flaps and ailerons and the tail-mounted rudder and elevator presents a specific challenge for airframers. Aerospace manufacturers need to be able to quickly set up the measurement devices on the aircraft, accurately measure the inclination angles and correctly record the results in the airframer production traceability system.
Hexagon offers a choice of manual and automated inclination measurement solutions suitable for flight control surface inspection. Manual solutions like digital inclinometers provide a fast and easy-to-use way of checking horizontally-mounted surfaces without the need for tooling installation on the wing surface, while horizontal and vertical flight control surface positions can be checked using automated laser tracker measurement techniques. Designed for high-accuracy large-volume measurements, these automated systems enable airframers to track motion in real time and create traceable digital reports.
Hexagon solutions for flight control surface inclination measurement have been used by a number of aerospace OEMs for major aircraft programmes.