Air Data Computers - What it is and How it works

Posted on January 15, 2020 james smith aviation

Since the first flight of the Wright brothers in 1903, aircraft technology and capabilities have come a long way. The speed, power, and maneuverability of aircraft has redefined how we fly, but has also created a demand and need for accurate flight readings for safety. Conventional mechanical instruments did not always have accurate indications, and they often faced various problems and risk of failure the more they were pushed. Luckily, the solution to these problems came in the air data computer which revolutionized aircraft readings.

Air data computers work to collect and analyze various data that is received from the pitot and static pressure sensors and other inputs. Utilizing this data, the various types of air data computers can determine pertinent trend data such as true airspeed, altitude, angle of attack, temperature, Mach, air density ratios, and more. Air data computers can be found in almost every modern aircraft, and they can also benefit other vehicles such as helicopters and space shuttles. Depending on the vehicle, the system may differ in its functionality and readings.

Through the measurement of pressure, velocity and altitude readings can be obtained. As the aircraft moves through the air at high speeds, pressure builds up in front of the vehicle. This pressure is then directed into a pitot tube which is used to calculate the speed of the vehicle. The static port of the aircraft is connected to a pressure sensor of the air data computer, and together the port and sensor measures the changes in air pressure as the aircraft ascends. As air molecules become progressively less dense farther away from sea level, the static port can use this change to discern the elevation of the aircraft.

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