Proceedings PaperFiber optic signal collection system for primary flight control applications
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The FOPMN is a fiber-optic signal collection system for primary flight control applications. An avionics bay protected electro-optic interface unit transmits light down fiber optic cable to an optical sensor housed in the harsh environment of a hydraulic actuator. The interface unit also receives the sensor's reflected pattern and calculates independent positions from the multiplexed signals. This paper discusses the FOPMN method for fiber-optically sensing and multiplexing two channels of position of a TEF actuator's main ram cylinder. Currently installed in NASA Dryden's SRA F/A-18, the FOPMN has accumulated approximately 15 hours of flight time. A performance comparison is made between the FOPMN positions and the flight control computer's feedback mechanism (the actuator LVDTs). Included is a discussion of some of the lessons learned as a result of testing the FOPMN in the lab and in flight. The FOPMN is well on its way to proving itself as a robust fiber optic system with the ability to multiplex numerous optical sensors for primary flight control. The success of the FOPMN leads to the second phase of the project--optical loop closure. Our goal for this phase is to have four FOPMN sensor channels on the main ram and/or the main control valve of the actuator to serve as the quad redundant feedback mechanism for flight control.