Control Surface Buffet Load Measurement

Period of Performance: 04/27/2009 - 10/27/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Microstrain, Inc.
459 Hurricane Lane, Suite 102
Williston, VT 05495
Principal Investigator


Structural monitoring of Navy aircraft is of critical importance as the fleet ages. One critical area includes the control surfaces, which are subject to intense, dynamic buffet loading which can lead to structural cracking. The highly transient nature of buffet loading makes it difficult to measure using conventional sensors. We propose to solve this problem by combining a network of time-synchronized wireless load sensors with integrated microelectronics for static and dynamic loads sensing, data recording, communications, and energy harvesting. Our proposed sensors possess major advantages, including: sealed stainless packaging, full calibration prior to installation, rapid installation, and locations which enable a full computation of control surface forces and moments. Embedded firmware at each node will detect when buffet loads occur, and each wireless sensor node will automatically increase its sampling rate for high speed data recording. Data during normal aircraft maneuvers shall also be recorded, at a reduced sample rate. Time stamped, synchronized data will be stored in non-volatile memory and may be downloaded wirelessly at high rates upon receipt of a secure command. The embedded firmware also uses micro-power sleep modes whenever appropriate to enable powering by vibration energy harvesting, which will eliminate the need for battery maintenance.