Brake Anti-Skid Systems (Part Two)

in Aircraft Landing Gear Systems

Anti-Skid Control Valves

Anti-skid control valves are fast-acting, electrically controlled hydraulic valves that respond to the input from the anti-skid control unit. There is one control valve for each brake assembly. A torque motor uses the input from the valve driver to adjust the position of a flapper between two nozzles. By moving the flapper closer to one nozzle or the other, pressures are developed in the second stage of the valve. These pressures act on a spool that is positioned to build or reduce pressure to the brake by opening and blocking fluid ports. [Figure 13-110]

Figure 13-110. An antiskid control valve uses a torque motor controlled flapper in the first stage of the valve to adjust pressure on a spool in the second stage of the valve to build or relieve pressure to the brake.

Figure 13-110. An antiskid control valve uses a torque motor controlled flapper in the first stage of the valve to adjust pressure on a spool in the second stage of the valve to build or relieve pressure to the brake.

As pressure is adjusted to the brakes, deceleration slows to within the range that provides the most effective braking without skidding. The wheel sensor signal adjusts to the wheel speed, and the control unit processes the change.

Figure 13-111. Two antiskid control valves with associated plumbing and wiring.

Figure 13-111. Two antiskid control valves with associated plumbing and wiring.

Output is altered to the control valve. The control valve flapper position is adjusted and steady braking resumes without correction until needed. Anti-skid control valves are typically located in the main wheel for close access to hydraulic pressure and return manifolds, as well as the brake assemblies. [Figure 13-111] Systematically, they are positioned downstream of the power brake control valves but upstream of debooster cylinders if the aircraft is so equipped as was shown in Figure 13-103.

Figure 13-103. The location of a brake debooster cylinder on a landing gear strut and the debooster’s position in relation to other components of a power brake system.

Figure 13-103. The location of a brake debooster cylinder on a landing gear strut and the debooster’s position in relation to other components of a power brake system. [click image to enlarge]

Touchdown and Lock Wheel Protection

It is essential that the brakes are not applied when the aircraft contacts the runway upon landing. This could cause immediate tire blowout. A touchdown protection mode is built into most aircraft anti-skid systems to prevent this. It typically functions in conjunction with the wheel speed sensor and the air/ground safety switch on the landing gear strut (squat switch). Until the aircraft has weight on wheels, the detector circuitry signals the anti-skid control valve to open the passage between the brakes and the hydraulic system return, thus preventing pressure build-up and application of the brakes. Once the squat switch is open, the anti-skid control unit sends a signal to the control valve to close and permit brake pressure build-up. As a back-up and when the aircraft is on the ground with the strut not compressed enough to open the squat switch, a minimum wheel speed sensor signal can override and allow braking. Wheels are often grouped with one relying on the squat switch and the other on wheel speed sensor output to ensure braking when the aircraft is on the ground, but not before then.

Locked wheel protection recognizes if a wheel is not rotating. When this occurs, the anti-skid control valve is signaled to fully open. Some aircraft anti-skid control logic, such as the Boeing 737 shown in Figure 13-110, expands the locked wheel function. Comparator circuitry is used to relieve pressure when one wheel of a paired group of wheels rotates 25 percent slower than the other. Inboard and outboard pairs are used because if one of the pair is rotating at a certain speed, so should the other. If it is not, a skid is beginning or has occurred.

On takeoff, the anti-skid system receives input through a switch located on the gear selector that shuts off the anti-skid system. This allows the brakes to be applied as retraction occurs so that no wheel rotation exists while the gear is stowed.

Auto Brakes

Aircraft equipped with auto brakes typically bypass the brake control valves or brake metering valves and use a separate auto brake control valve to provide this function. In addition to the redundancy provided, auto brakes rely on the anti-skid system to adjust pressure to the brakes if required due to an impending skid. Figure 13-112 shows a simplified diagram of the Boeing 757 brake system with the auto brake valve in relation to the main metering valve and anti-skid valves in this eight-main wheel system.

Figure 13-112. The Boeing 757 normal brake system with auto brake and antiskid.

Figure 13-112. The Boeing 757 normal brake system with auto brake and antiskid. [click image to enlarge]

Anti-Skid System Tests

It is important to know the status of the anti-skid system prior to attempting to use it during a landing or aborted takeoff. Ground tests and in-flight tests are used. Built-in test circuits and control features allow testing of the system components and provide warnings should a particular component or part of the system become inoperative. An inoperative anti-skid system can be shut off without affecting normal brake operation.

Ground Test

Ground tests vary slightly from aircraft to aircraft. Consult the manufacturer’s maintenance manual for test procedures specific to the aircraft in question.

Much of the anti-skid system testing originates from testing circuits in the anti-skid control unit. Built-in test circuits continuously monitor the anti-skid system and provide warning if a failure occurs. An operational test can be performed before flight. The anti-skid control switch and/or test switch is used in conjunction with system indicator light(s) to determine system integrity. A test is first done with the aircraft at rest and then in an electrically simulated anti-skid braking condition. Some anti-skid control units contain system and component testing switches and lights for use by the technician. This accomplishes the same operational verification, but allows an additional degree of troubleshooting. Test sets are available for anti-skid systems that produce electric signals that simulate speed outputs of the wheel transducer, deceleration rates, and flight/ground parameters.

In-Flight Test

In-flight testing of the anti-skid system is desirable and part of the pre-landing checklist so that the pilot is aware of system capability before landing. As with ground testing, a combination of switch positions and indicator lights are used according to information in the aircraft operations manual.

Anti-Skid System Maintenance

Anti-skid components require little maintenance. Troubleshooting anti-skid system faults is either performed via test circuitry or can be accomplished through isolation of the fault to one of the three main operating components of the system. Anti-skid components are normally not repaired in the field. They are sent to the manufacturer or a certified repair station when work is required. Reports of anti-skid system malfunction are sometimes malfunctions of the brake system or brake assemblies. Ensure brake assemblies are bled and functioning normally without leaks before attempting to isolate problems in the anti-skid system.

Wheel Speed Sensor

Wheel speed sensors must be securely and correctly mounted in the axle. The means of keeping contamination out of the sensor, such as sealant or a hub cap, should be in place and in good condition. The wiring to the sensor is subject to harsh conditions and should be inspected for integrity and security. It should be repaired or replaced if damaged in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Accessing the wheel speed sensor and spinning it by hand or other recommended device to ensure brakes apply and release via the anti-skid system is common practice.

Control Valve

Anti-skid control valve and hydraulic system filters should be cleaned or replaced at the prescribed intervals. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions when performing this maintenance. Wiring to the valve must be secure, and there should be no fluid leaks.

Control Unit

Control units should be securely mounted. Test switches and indicators, if any, should be in place and functioning. It is essential that wiring to the control unit is secure. A wide variety of control units are in use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times when inspecting or attempting to perform maintenance on these units.