It’s the last thing I think about when I board a plane; yet, it’s first of mind when I see that we’re approaching pavement at a high rate of speed upon reaching our destination. You guessed it: I’m talking about brakes. This aircraft element gains little consumer attention (unless it fails to work, of course), but the critical system component is garnering considerable attention from the technology firms that design, develop, test, and manufacture it.
“What’s innovative about brake systems?” you might ask. Lots.
The mil/aero industry is trending toward more electric systems, explains Mike Shaw, electrical engineer with Goodrich Corp. in Phoenix, Ariz. He and his colleagues at Goodrich are actively employing software modeling considerations and practices in the design of electro-magnetic brake systems.
Goodrich engineers delivered the first electrically actuated braking system for a commercial aircraft, the Boeing 787. The innovative brake system completed all required dedicated flight test conditions this year. The modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial airliner to take advantage of not only certified electric brakes, but also electric rather than hydraulic landing gear and nose wheel steering, primary and secondary flight control surface actuation, and environmental and cabin pressure controls.
This geek is relieved to find that mil/aero companies are tapping the latest electronic design automation (EDA) software (from Mentor Graphics, in fact) for the design, verification, and testing of critical aircraft components, including brake systems. The brakes will likely be top of mind the next time I find myself on an airliner—I’ll be hoping they were EDA designed, tested, and approved.