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Read a bit about the potential cost savings of replacing existing hydraulic aileron actuators on large commercial aircraft such as the A350/380 with electrohydraulic/electromechanical actuators.

Airbus estimated that it achieved approximately 1,000 pounds of weight reduction on the A380 aircraft when a hydraulic aileron actuator is replaced by electrohydraulic or electromechanical actuator. Source: http://mil-embedded.com/articles/motor-control-more-electric-aircraft/

Does anyone know if there are any ongoing efforts anywhere into replacing existing actuators with the 'more electric' EHAs/EMAs? Any insight is appreciated!

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  • $\begingroup$ It's not fair to call EHA 'electric' flight control (in the title). They may be 'more' electric but still mostly hydraulic. For primary controls, purely electric/EMA controls are hardly feasible any time soon at all, let alone retrofitting them. $\endgroup$ – Zeus Jun 6 '18 at 0:54
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Technically it's entirely possible to replace these actuators but it's unlikely they will because the economics don't work out. The weight savings you get will be offset by the costs from design, recertification and installation. It's not as simple as bolting something on.

When you make a big change like this to an airplane you have to take into account the changes it will bring. The actuator may be a different shape, the loss of weight in one area will change the balance of the airplane and affect its structures in ways that have to be accounted for. The forces the new actuator design will put on structures must be accounted for.

Electric actuators need electricity, that means you need to generate it and supply it. You'll have to run wires for it, maybe change the engines generators so they supply more juice. You may have to change the Ram Air Turbine so control can be maintained if engine power is lost. The airplane's control systems may have to be modified. Emergency procedures, maintenance manuals must be changed, people have to be trained, etc. Finally, all this must be certified with the FAA, EASA, and other bodies before passengers can be taken, only then can the actuators actually be replaced.

All this costs a lot of money to do, which is why major retrofits like that are rarely done, the ton of weight they save isn't worth the costs of doing it, even over 10 years of flying.

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  • $\begingroup$ Those new power wires also need fuses added to the fuse panel $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Jun 5 '18 at 11:27

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