When people see a networking switch, they may think it is a router at first. While a switch and a router both are network devices that can connect multiple computers together to the internet through the modem, they serve different functions in how they connect and manage data. While a router connects various networks on a single connection, a switch is more of a bridge in which multiple computers are connected together onto a single network. Therefore a router connects multiple networks and a switch connects computers to a single network. Switches usually benefit large networks in which many systems are connected through LAN. A Fiber Optic Switch in particular is a special type that allows for a connected network that runs on fiber optic technology.

Fiber optic switches are communication control devices that are most often utilized in optical fiber networking. In regards to computer networking, fiber optic switches are components that are installed between fiber lines to both send and receive light data transmissions from one device to the other, as well as determine the destination of the data packet. In their most basic, they are still a Standard Switch in that they connect devices together in a LAN network, but transfer data through photons rather than through copper wiring.

In all applications, Fiber Optic Cables utilize light signals to transfer data rather than electrical signals, therefore they are not affected by interfering electromagnetic waves. Fiber optic switches also have the ability to reach great speeds, often ranging from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Other benefits include rapid switching times, low loss of signal, and great stability. As compared to traditional switches, fiber optics can be more expensive, but their options for speed and superb abilities make them a heavy contender to traditional copper wiring. Due to their abilities, fiber optic switches and cabling can be worthwhile investment depending on the size of your network and the speeds that you desire.

Read more »

With the electric currents that work to Supply Power to the many appliances that we rely on daily, there are always electrical issues that may arise. From short circuits to other forms of current overloads, damage to the appliance, circuit, or even the building may be caused. With the use of a circuit breaker, building, appliance, and circuit protection can be achieved through shutting off the current through contact separation during an overload. Depending on the rating or size of the system that is present, different types of Circuit Breakers may be utilized. In this article, we will give a short overview of some of the main types of breakers.

Arc Chute Circuit Breaker: Also known as an air magnetic breaker, this type contains metallic or insulated plates that are placed between the circuit contacts. These components are highly useful as when the arc is created through the separation of the contacts, it is forced to contact those plates and is then divided, helping dampen the voltage through its diffusion.

Air Blast Circuit Breaker: Through the use of a blast of compressed air, the circuit contacts are opened and the circuit is interrupted, the air blast then cooling the resulting arc as well. Depending on the type of air blast circuit breaker, the air may move in a direction that is cross, radial, or axial in relation to the arc. These types of Circuit Breakers are useful for outdoor switch yards.

Oil Circuit Breaker: These types of breakers utilize an insulating oil that dissipates and cools the arc when the contacts are opened. Oil circuits have the benefit of acting as an insulator between the wire and the earth as well, making them beneficial. Oil circuit breakers are a cheap, reliable solution due to the fact that they do not utilize any special devices.

Sulfur Hexafluoride Circuit Breakers: Also referred to as SF6 circuit breakers, this type utilizes sulfur hexafluoride gas to extinguish the resulting arc. The gas works to attract free electrons, and as it is released into the arc, it attracts the conducting electrons. Through this, it completely extinguishes and cools the arc. These breakers boast low maintenance, are highly effective, and have no emission of gases, making them very useful for electrical grids and hazardous areas.

Vacuum Circuit Breaker: When the contacts are opened during a fault, this type of breaker forced the arc into a vacuumed space devoid of any solid, liquid, or gas. Within the chamber, arcs are unable to form and electricity cannot move through the vacuum space. Vacuum breakers are useful through their high efficiency and great insulation strength.

Read more »

Most people outside the aviation industry will equate the terms air traffic controller with aircraft dispatcher and believe them to be synonymous. Even when reporting news stories on aircraft incidents, anchors will mistakenly refer to an aircraft dispatcher when they are actually referring to the air traffic controller. The terms and the duties of each can certainly resemble each other, but there is a significant difference between the two. If you’re hoping to enter into the industry, it helps being able to differentiate between the two.

You will often hear about the air traffic controller if you look at reports of aircraft incidents. This is because it is their job to keep aircraft safe in flight. They coordinate directly with them via radio or radar contact and are often located in airport towers, radar rooms, or on the ground. The air traffic controllers are also responsible for directing the movement of the planes and ensuring each plane is a safe distance apart from another. They can provide current weather stats and are trained to handle unexpected events.

The role of an aircraft dispatcher may sound similar but it is significantly different. Their main responsibility is to take care of the pre planning process for each flight. Their job is to review the  plane’s crew, monitor the plane in-flight, and focus on maximizing efficiency. This job requires extensive research to create the flight plan, which should include details like the flight’s planned route, weather, airports, altitudes, aircraft weight, and other variables. The aircraft dispatcher must also take fuel into account and ensure that there is enough fuel for an aircraft’s current and next flight. 

Read more »

From small generators to large commercial vehicles, every machine depends on fuel to function. Having the ability to conduct fuel calculation of an airplane is critical for crews so that they are able to adhere to set routes. There are a few methods and benefits of being able to measure the amount of fuel that is remaining in an aircraft. Quantity of fuel can be measured with the rate in which fuel is flowing into the engine and can be beneficial for the flight crew of an aircraft to calculate the remaining flight time. Airplane fuel meters and measurements also help for comparing the functionality and performance of engines to past calculated performance.

Depending on the type of aircraft, fuel measurement can differ. For aircraft that are smaller and lighter, a mechanical float assembly dictates an indicator and varies the current flow. The mechanical float is a gauge located in the tank that rests on the fuel's surface attached to an indicating rod. As fuel levels drop, the float operates the indicator to display the remaining fuel. While this method is fairly simple, while the plane is in ascent or descent, it can prove unreliable due to displacement of the floater and fuel. The second method is for high-performance aircraft fuel systems in which the quantity of fuel can be measured in electrical capacitance. Electrical capacitance is the ratio of the change in an electrical charge in a system as compared to the change in its electric potential and enables a more accurate system of measuring fuel.

Both systems differ in their operating principle with one depending on the principle of electrical resistance and the other on the principle of capacitance. Transmitters along with receivers and indicators are the two units of the fuel flow measuring system. For transmitters, they are an electromechanical device attached to the fuel system’s delivery side and create an output signal corresponding to the flow rate. Sensors and transmitters are located in tanks and are connected in parallel for getting average values. The sensors are profiled so that they may give linear output to indicate remaining fuel in the tank. For all fuel quantity measurements, indicators are displayed in either pounds or kilograms.

Read more »

Airspeed is the measurement of the speed a plane is traveling on its own, without help from tailwind or other factors. Rather than being measured by an intricate system of electrical parts, airspeed is found using a type of differential pressure gauge called a pitot tube. The tube has an open end which, when mounted on the wing, faces toward the flow of air or water. The airspeed indicator works by measuring the difference between a fixed sensor away from the air stream and a sensor, the pitot tube, in the air stream. While the aircraft is still, the pressure in each tube is equal and the airspeed indicator displays zero.

During flight, the flow of air into the pitot tube causes a pressure differential between the two sensors. This pressure differential is what causes the indicator to move. Air pressure then pushes against the diaphragm that moves a connected mechanical pointer on the speedometer. Each indicator is adjusted to compensate for airwinds to provide an accurate airspeed. In addition to this, most aircraft have electronics to account for altitude and air temperature while calculating an accurate air speed measurement. In the event that the pitot tube becomes blocked by insects, dirt, or other in-flight debris, air cannot enter the system. If this is the case, the system will drop to ambient pressure and the speedometer will read zero.

Because the maximum speed of jet aircraft is measured in knots and Mach, pilots need a speedometer and a Machmeter. A Machmeter measures the ratio of airspeed to the speed of sound called a Mach number. It appears on the Machmeter as a decimal number. The speed of sound is a common standard of airspeed measurement, and is expressed as Mach 1.

At Aerospace Orbit, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the Aircraft Instruments and Avionics Parts you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@aerospaceorbit.com or call us at 1-509-449-7700.

Read more »

Due to the risks involved in flight, safety measures must be exhaustive, comprehensive, and followed obsessively. Determining the airworthiness of an aircraft is the responsibility of the pilot, flight crew, and the maintenance staff that work on the aircraft. The pilot or copilot is responsible for performing a preflight check, and the maintenance staff is responsible for managing the maintenance state of the aircraft and delivering that information to the flight crew.

The preflight check consists of an exterior walkaround and visual inspection of critical parts of the aircraft, such as sensors, probes, structural components, and exposed motors and cables. This is nowhere near thorough enough to spot every potential problem, but it is still a required part of flight, and has been enough to prevent some flights that should have never taken off from the beginning.

After the walkaround an interior check is conducted with tests of various systems such as fire detection, weather radar, warning lights, and many others. The nature of these tests varies depending on the systems mounted on the aircraft, and some aircraft can conduct these tests automatically.

Maintenance crews are responsible for performing interval checks throughout the aircraft’s lifetime as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, referred to as A-checks, B-checks, C-checks, and D-checks. The A-check is the least invasive and must be performed for every 500 hours of flying time. The D-check is the most thorough, occurs every six years or so, and can be so invasive and expensive that some airliners will retire the aircraft rather than deal with it. Additionally, the maintenance crew must keep an inventory of the operational state of all flight safety equipment aboard the aircraft. If the flight crews discover a fault, they need to notify maintenance, who will decide whether to take the plane offline to fix it, or defer it. This decision depends on the MEL, minimum equipment list, that the aircraft needs to adhere to in order to be airworthy. The pilot must review the MEL and deferred items before each flight to be aware of the maintenance state of the aircraft.

At Aerospace Orbit, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the maintenance tools and equipment for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@aerospaceorbit.com or call us at 1-509-449-7700.

Read more »

Over the course of aviation history, many different types of airplane propellers have been used in piston engine-driven aircraft, as advances in materials and engineering opened up greater and greater possibilities in the aircraft propeller's design and engine performance. In this blog, we will explore some of the different types of propellers used over the years.

The first propellers were fixed-pitch, meaning they could not be adjusted in their mountings on the propeller hub, and were made of wood. They were not carved from a single piece, but built layer by layer with specially prepared wood, with black walnut, sugar maple, yellow birch, and black cherry being the most commonly used. Today however, they have been all but supplanted and are typically only seen on historical examples.

Metal fixed-pitch propellers were first invented in the 1940s. Made from aluminum alloy, they were specially treated to be less prone to warping in extreme heat or cold. Today, almost all propellers, including the types on this list, are made from metal so that the propeller lifespan is increased.

Ground-adjustable propellers can have their pitch (the angle the blades are facing) changed, but only when the propeller is not turning. A clamping mechanism holds the propeller blades in place, and the blade’s angle can be changed by loosening this mechanism. There is no way to change the blade’s pitch mid-flight however, so ground-adjustable propellers are not used in modern aircraft.

Controllable pitch propellers can alter the blade’s pitch during flight, while the propeller is still running. This means that the blade angle can be altered to adapt to changing flight conditions. The number of pitch positions is limited and can be adjusted between minimum and maximum pitch settings.

Constant speed propellers accelerate when the airplane dives and slow down when the aircraft climbs due to the changing load on the engine. This is accomplished by the propeller governor, which senses the aircraft’s speed and changes the blade angle to maintain a specific RPM regardless of the aircraft’s operational conditions. This lets the pilot keep the engine speed constant, which lets the pilot focus on other flight conditions.

Feathering propellers are used with multi-engine aircraft. If one or more aircraft engine parts fail, these propellers reduce propeller drag to a minimum. Feathering propellers can change the blade angle of a propeller to 90 degrees and are usually feathered when the engine of the aircraft fails to generate the power needed to turn the propeller. By rotating to an angle parallel to the line of flight, drag is greatly reduced on the aircraft, allowing it to function as a glider.

Lastly, reverse-pitch propellers are controllable aircraft propellers whose blade angles may be changed to a negative value in-flight. The purpose of a reversible pitch is to create a negative blade angle to produce thrust in the opposite direction, which is done to reduce airspeed during landings and take pressure off the brakes.

Read more »

Aircraft powered by piston and turboprop engines feature propeller blades that pull or push on the air around the aircraft to provide propulsion. As piston engines have become more powerful, they require more and more propeller blades.

To understand why, we need to understand the working principle of a propeller. The purpose of a propeller is to “absorb” the power produced by the engine and transmit that power to the air passing through the propeller, which generates the thrust force that propels the aircraft through the air. Therefore, if the propeller and engine are not properly matched based on the power of the engine, the system is inefficient.         

As engine power increases, the designer has several different options to design an aircraft propeller that can efficiently absorb that power. However, most of these options have severe drawbacks.

  1.  Increasing the blade angle (or pitch) of the propeller blades allows them to impart more energy to the airflow but altering the blade angle damages the aerodynamic efficiency of the blade.
  2. Increasing propeller length lets the propeller blades impart more energy by affecting a larger volume of air but forces the designer to extend the landing gear as well to keep the prop blades from touching the ground. This in turn forces the landing gear to extend, which causes a domino effect of other structural and weight issues.
  3. Increasing the revolutions per minute of the propeller is an option, but at a certain speed the propeller blades begin to reach supersonic speeds, causing sonic booms at their tips which drastically increases drag.
  4. The camber (or curvature) of the blades can be altered to change their airfoil and generate more thrust. However, this alters the aerodynamic efficiency much like changing the blade angle and can also cause structural issues with the blades, negatively affecting the lifespan of a propeller.

Therefore, there are two viable options for increasing a propeller’s output. Either you can increase the blade’s width, or chord, or increase the number of blades on the propeller. Increasing the blade chord is easier, but once again, changing the chord affects the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency. Thus, this leaves us with the last option, increasing the number of aircraft propeller blades. By doing so, you increase the solidity of the propeller disk, the space that the propeller rotates in. By increasing the solidity, the propeller can transfer more power to the air, thus increasing thrust.

Read more »

Unlike early aircraft— which merely required a rough surface to land—  modern aircraft are required to have a fully functioning braking system to ensure a safe and full stop. The basic function of an aircraft brake part is to slow and stop the plane on the tarmac. Just as you push down the brake in an automatic car to stop it from moving forward at a red light, the brakes on an aircraft also allow a pilot to hold the plane on the tarmac before take-off or during taxi.

Brakes function using a basic principle of creating heat energy by interrupting the kinetic energy of the plane in motion. When a moving part comes into contact with a stationary object, friction is created. The friction often results in heat energy being released. Depending on the size and type of the aircraft, the brake cylinder can consist of multiple brake pads and rotating disks, or a single rotating disk with one stationary caliper.

In a common brake system, the pilot is able to push or activate a hydraulic or mechanical system that, in turn, applies pressure on the brakes. A pilot will have two separate pedals or rudders that control the left and right brake. In light aircraft, a simple brake mechanism is efficient enough to safely stop and land the plane. When the pilot activates the mechanical system, the single disc brake, consisting of one rotating element, is slowed down by a light squeezing on each side in the form of a fixed stationary caliper. While this type of aviation braking system is sufficient with a light aircraft with a light load, it is not suitable for larger commercial or military aircraft.

The type and function of the aircraft should be considered when fitting the brake system. Certain braking systems are more adept at converting kinetic energy into heat energy, but struggle to dissipate the heat. Vice versa, some braking systems struggle to convert energy, but can efficiently disperse off the heat.

The larger the plane, the more friction is needed to ground it. The large amount of heat that is generated in the braking process can be dangerous and therefore problematic for aircraft manufacturers. The braking system of an aircraft could be damaged if the heat is not correctly spread out across the system. Aircrafts employ different types of cooling methods to spread and disperse off the heat generated. Segmented rotor brake systems were developed to overcome the issue of the large amounts of heat generated in the slowing process. The segmented rotor brake system consists of a series of multiple rotating plates that are sandwiched between stationary brake pads. As the brake pads touch the rotating disks, they briefly interrupt the rotation, converting the kinetic energy to heat. The segmented brakes are designed with spaces in between each brake pad and disc to allow the excess heat to escape.

Read more »

The propeller of an aircraft is a crucial component that contributes to flight. A propeller provides the thrust needed to maintain a forward direction. It maintains a rotary motion in which it creates a difference in air pressure between the front and back surfaces of its blades. The shape of the blade contributes to the pressure difference and air displacement. The rotary motion allows the blades to do their job. Most propellers require an engines assistance to spin.

There are several things to consider when operating an aircraft with a propeller. First off is the angle of attack. This is the angle a wing is positioned in oncoming airflow. The pitch angle is also something to consider. This refers to the angle a propeller blade produces with its rotational plane. A controllable-pitch propeller allows the pilot to manually alter the pitch of the blades during flight, enabling it to have peak performance. The design of the propeller can seriously impact the aircraft engine's performance. A combination of the proper angle of attack and pitch angle results in an exceptionally smooth flight.

Prolonging the longevity of your aircraft propeller can be achieved with proper maintenance, preflight inspections, and routine servicing. If a pilot is able to notice an issue early on, they can circumvent a hefty repair bill later. One tip is to clean the aircraft propeller post flight to ensure that any buildup will not cause corrosion, which can lead to damage. Also, apply oil daily if it is stationed in a salty coastal environment. Internal corrosion is a leading cause of major malfunctions in propellers.

Every single propeller has a recommended overhaul interval based on total flight hours and calendar time that has surpassed. Service is needed after approximately 2,000 flight hours or every 5 years for aircrafts that don’t fly regularly. If your engine needs repair before your propeller does, it can be advantageous to replace both at the same time.

Regular balance checks on your propeller can also help increase the life of your aircraft engine, save costs in repairs, and improve the overall performance of the aircraft. Anytime you replace or remove your propeller you should have it dynamically balanced. Another sign that a balance is needed is if your plane vibrates excessively. Keep in mind that having your propeller balanced will not help disguise other engine issues.

Replacing your propeller with a new one results in improved takeoff and climb, quieter flights, a gain in ground clearance, and a much more satisfactory experience.

Read more »

Recent Twitter Posts

 Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships
We’re Glad You Visited Aerospace Orbit today.

Please Remember to Visit Us Again the Next Time You Need Parts.

Request for Quote