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Flight Control Actuators: A Pivotal LVDT Application

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The aviation industry has been an arena of incredible innovation and technical progression, and at the heart of many of these advancements lies the Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT). An LVDT is an electromechanical sensor used to convert mechanical motion into an electrical signal, making it a crucial component in myriad applications. One of its most significant implementations is in flight control actuators, devices that serve as an essential cog in the complex machinery of aviation systems.

A Closer Look at LVDTs

The LVDT functions as a position sensor, providing accurate linear displacement measurements. Comprising a primary coil and two secondary coils wound on a cylindrical form, the transformer operates on the principle of mutual inductance. When the primary coil is excited with an AC supply, a voltage is induced in the secondary coils. The movement of a ferromagnetic core inside the coil assembly causes a change in the voltage of these secondary coils, resulting in a signal proportional to the displacement of the core. The beauty of LVDTs is their near-infinite resolution, exceptional repeatability, and resistance to environmental conditions, making them a reliable choice for numerous applications.

LVDTs in Flight Control Actuators

Flight control actuators are critical components in an aircraft. They help control the aircraft's direction and altitude by moving flight control surfaces like the ailerons, rudder, and elevators. These actuators can be hydraulic, electric, or a combination thereof, and they rely heavily on feedback control systems to operate precisely. This is where LVDTs enter the equation.

Integrated within the flight control actuator, an LVDT serves as a position feedback sensor. The core of the LVDT is mechanically coupled to the actuator rod or the flight control surface itself. As the actuator moves, so does the LVDT core, which induces a change in voltage across the secondary coils. This voltage change is converted into an electrical signal that accurately represents the position of the flight control surface.

Why LVDTs Are The Preferred Choice

LVDTs offer several unique advantages in the context of critical flight control actuators. First, they provide continuous, contactless operation, ensuring minimal wear and tear and extending the service life of the system. Their outstanding linearity and repeatability guarantee precise position feedback, a factor of utmost importance when dealing with the sensitive control surfaces of an aircraft.

Moreover, LVDTs are resilient. They can withstand high vibration levels and extreme temperatures, both typical in aviation environments. Their ability to deliver reliable performance in these conditions makes them a dependable choice for aircraft applications. Additionally, LVDTs are immune to most forms of electrical noise, thus ensuring signal integrity.

Lastly, an LVDT's low power consumption and compatibility with both analog and digital systems makes them highly versatile, contributing to their widespread use in the aviation industry.


LVDTs are a testament to how seemingly small components can have an enormous impact on the overall functioning of a complex system like an aircraft. Their critical role in flight control actuators highlights their importance in ensuring precise control and safe flights. As technology continues to evolve, the adoption of LVDTs in various applications, especially in demanding environments like aviation, will undoubtedly persist.

Their unmatched reliability, accuracy, and resilience prove why LVDTs are not just another piece of the aviation puzzle but an indispensable part of the picture, instrumental in maintaining the high standards of safety and efficiency in the industry. As we continue to explore new horizons in aviation, LVDTs will undoubtedly remain at the forefront, assisting in navigating the skies with precision and confidence.

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