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Patent: To Detect Aircraft Weight on the Ground.
Patent: To Detect Aircraft Weight on the Ground. | dal_ftw_txbz,James Grant Mast, Burleson, Charles Eric Covington, Colleyville, Paul Eugene Darden,Arlington,William L. McKeown,Euless,patent,8266030,Weight-on-Gear,sensor,aviation,Textron,aircraft,

James Grant Mast of Burleson, Charles Eric Covington of Colleyville, Paul Eugene Darden of Arlington and William L. McKeown of Euless recently received U.S. Patent 8,226,030 for “Weight-on-Gear Sensor.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  Four Texas men have devised a new way to detect the amount of weight on an aircraft’s landing skid.

James Grant Mast of Burleson, Charles Eric Covington of Colleyville, Paul Eugene Darden of Arlington and William L. McKeown of Euless recently received U.S. Patent 8,226,030 for “Weight-on-Gear Sensor.”

The four men applied for the patent more than two years ago on December 17, 2009.

The patent assignee is Textron Innovations Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island.

 Their invention relates to sensors for aircraft, according to the patent documents. In particular, the present application relates to weight-on-gear sensors for aircraft with landing skids. 

For a multitude of reasons it is important for various aircraft systems to know if the aircraft is on the ground or in the air. This is referred to in this application as "weight-on-gear" status. For the purposes of this application, "positive" weight-on-gear status means that the aircraft has landed on a surface, and "negative" weight-on-gear status means that the aircraft is airborne.

One reason this is important is the desire to disable, or adjust, the operation of weapons systems, or other systems, while the aircraft is on the ground. Because an aircraft may land on a variety of surfaces, it is important that the system used to determine if the aircraft is in flight is not easily damaged, confused, or circumvented by uneven surfaces or unusually high or low friction surfaces. 

Some complex systems have been developed to determine whether an aircraft with opposite landing skids is in the air. Some of these systems measure the deflection of one of the cross tubes that connect the landing skids to the fuselage of the aircraft. This sort of system depends on the cross tube and aircraft maintaining tight tolerances over the life of the system. One problem with these systems is that unusually hard landings can deform either the fuselage or the cross tube, making systems that are dependent on this physical relationship unreliable. 

Other systems use delicate strain gage sensors on the structural members of the landing gear. The main problem with these systems is that these sensors are easily damaged by harsh environments and therefore not suitable for extended service. 

Yet other systems use complex sensors with low tolerances in very limited ranges of operation. Once the range of operation is exceeded, such as by a hard landing or large swing in temperature, the sensor is not able to reliably track further operation of the aircraft. 

As might be expected, the above systems may be very expensive either due to initial cost or the high cost associated with frequent maintenance or replacement. 

As a result, the four men devised a weight-on-gear sensor for use on an aircraft with landing skids having a bracket and a displacement sensor attached to the bracket.

The bracket has a center member connecting a first end member to a second end member. The center member has a centerline and the end members extend from the centerline of the center member. Mounting members extend along the centerline of the center member to facilitate attachment of the bracket to a cross tube. The displacement sensor connects the first end member to the second end member. The displacement sensor is parallel to, and offset from, the centerline of the center member so that when a bending moment is applied to the center member the first displacement sensor is either elongated or shortened.