"EMG-6 Shop Notes" is a day-to-day accounting of what's going on in the shop with the EMG-6 Electric Motor Glider.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Although there’s been many variations upon the oleo strut, there is some particular genius in its design. The basic physics incorporated in the operation of the oleo strut is what has made it so popular in so many different designs from the smallest aircraft to the largest. This basic design concept (Figure: 1) is so efficient that even the most modern of aircraft use the same basic principles that adorned aircraft landing gear designed and built as far back as the 1930s.
Let’s look at the basic operation of the oleo strut. (Figure: 2) Inside the strut we likely have a combination of Mill-H-5606 hydraulic fluid and dry air or nitrogen. The primary job of the air located in the upper chamber of the strut is to act as a spring. And the primary job of the hydraulic fluid, which is located in the lower chamber of the strut, is to regulate and transfer the loads from the lower half to the upper half of the strut and subsequently into the airframe. Located in between the upper and lower sections, but attached to the upper portion of the strut, is an orifice (Shown in Green). This orifice restricts the flow of hydraulic fluid from the lower half to the upper half of the strut. This basically lengthens the time interval during the compression stroke created by the landing gears impact with the ground. Many early strut designs simply stopped at this point using a fixed orifice to control the fluid transfer from the lower to the upper half of the strut. Later designs improved upon this concept by incorporating one more component called the metering pin (Shown in Pink) which takes the design to an entirely new level. This metering pin is attached to the lower portion of the strut and is tapered starting at the top getting wider as it approaches the bottom section of the strut. This metering pin is co-located within the center of the orifice essentially creating a variable sized orifice. When the strut is fully extended, the gap between the orifice and the metering pin is relatively large allowing fluid to flow rapidly. According to Newton’s 2nd law the greatest amount of force imposed onto the landing gear structure will be at the point where we have the highest amount of deceleration (initial impact). As the rate of strut compression decreases, so does the force. This design allows the restriction between the orifice and metering pin to progressively get smaller and smaller essentially maintaining a constant force onto the structure while exponentially decreasing the rate of strut collapse. (Figure: 3) This allows the entire length of the lower section of strut to progressively collapse absorbing the landing loads over the longest time interval possible. It’s really quite a brilliant concept. A properly serviced strut is virtually impossible to bottom out because of this increasing restriction. Landing forces that could cause the strut to bottom out would likely result in ripping the strut from the aircraft structure. Recognize that it is the fluid and only the fluid that is responsible for the struts’ amazing ability to absorb these landing loads. A strut that has lost its fluid is virtually useless. A strut without fluid is the equivalent of welding the bottom half of the strut to the upper portion strut in the collapsed position. The time interval for deceleration, in this case, drop off dramatically. This, in turn, increases the loads imposed into the structure to also increase proportionally. We often wonder how many of the accidents, where we see a collapsed nose strut, are a direct result of improper servicing or simply loss of fluid.