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Development and application of optical fibre strain and pressure sensors for in-flight measurements

Lawson, N J; Correia, R; James, S W; Partridge, M; Staines, S E; Gautrey, J E; Garry, K P; Holt, J C; Tatam, R P


N J Lawson

S W James

M Partridge

S E Staines

J E Gautrey

K P Garry

J C Holt

R P Tatam


Fibre optic based sensors are becoming increasingly viable as replacements for traditional flight test sensors. Here we present laboratory, wind tunnel and flight test results of fibre Bragg gratings (FBG) used to measure surface strain and an extrinsic fibre Fabry–Perot interferometric (EFFPI) sensor used to measure unsteady pressure. The calibrated full scale resolution and bandwidth of the FBG and EFFPI sensors were shown to be 0.29% at 2.5 kHz up to 600 με and 0.15% at up to 10 kHz respectively up to 400 Pa. The wind tunnel tests, completed on a 30% scale model, allowed the EFFPI sensor to be developed before incorporation with the FBG system into a Bulldog aerobatic light aircraft. The aircraft was modified and certified based on Certification Standards 23 (CS-23) and flight tested with steady and dynamic manoeuvres. Aerobatic dynamic manoeuvres were performed in flight including a spin over a g-range  −1g to  +4g and demonstrated both the FBG and the EFFPI instruments to have sufficient resolution to analyse the wing strain and fuselage unsteady pressure characteristics. The steady manoeuvres from the EFFPI sensor matched the wind tunnel data to within experimental error while comparisons of the flight test and wind tunnel EFFPI results with a Kulite pressure sensor showed significant discrepancies between the two sets of data, greater than experimental error. This issue is discussed further in the paper.


Lawson, N. J., Correia, R., James, S. W., Partridge, M., Staines, S. E., Gautrey, J. E., …Tatam, R. P. (2016). Development and application of optical fibre strain and pressure sensors for in-flight measurements. Measurement Science and Technology, 27(10), 1-17.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 16, 2016
Publication Date Oct 1, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 12, 2019
Journal Measurement Science and Technology
Print ISSN 0957-0233
Electronic ISSN 1361-6501
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 10
Article Number 104001
Pages 1-17
Public URL
Publisher URL


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