One of the planes I worked on had ground spoiler response checked with proximity sensors. The reason mentioned for that was - "The ground spoiler is hydraulic only - hence its response will be checked with proximity sensors"

Landing gear control unit reads the proximity sensors and flight control system receives the signals indicating deployment of ground spoilers by landing gear control unit.

What are proximity sensors?

Why are they used because the surface is hydraulic?


1 Answer 1


A proximity sensor is any sensor that detects whether there is something in its proximity (within specified distance).

There are many kinds of proximity sensors (optical, magnetic, capacitive etc.) that detect different kinds of target objects and to various distances.

In this case, proximity sensor is used to detect position of the spoiler. Proximity sensors are preferred over micro-switches because they are more reliable, since they have no moving parts and thus don't wear out.

For parts actuated with hydraulics they are the only way to detect the position, since hydraulic actuators don't provide any direct way for detecting their position (compared to electric actuators, where in some cases the response of the actuator can be used to detect the position; the principle is similar to a magnetic proximity sensor anyway though).

  • $\begingroup$ Likely magnetic? Why? Aluminium isn't magnetic, and would be easier to detect with capacitive sensor. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Mar 30, 2016 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ @MSalters, it can be magnetic, if it is detecting something iron (in the actuator itself), or eddy-current (which uses electromagnet) or capacitive if detecting something aluminium. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Mar 30, 2016 at 12:07

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