How does the Wheel Speed Sensor Work?

A wheel speed sensor, or vehicle speed sensor, is an example of a tachometer. It is known as a sender device and is used to read the speed of a vehicle's wheel rotation. Wheel speed sensors typically consist of a toothed ring and pickup, and are found in automobiles, aircraft, and other wheeled vehicles. This blog will further explain aircraft wheel speed sensors, their characteristics, and how they operate.

In aircraft, a wheel speed sensor is a transducer. They can be either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). Most AC wheel speed sensors feature a stator that is mounted in the wheel axle. A coil around the stator is connected to a controlled DC source, so when the stator is energized, it becomes electromagnetic. A rotor that turns this stator is connected to the rotating wheel hub assembly via a drive coupling that causes it to rotate at the same speed of the wheel. Lobes on the rotor and stator allow the distance between the two components to constantly change during rotation. This affects the coupling or reluctance between the rotor and stator. As the electromagnetic field changes, a variable frequency AC is induced in the stator coil. This frequency is directly related to the rotational speed of the wheel. The AC signal is then fed to the control unit where it is processed. DC wheel speed sensors operate in a similar way, except that when a DC is produced, its size is directly linked to the speed of the wheel.

In commercial airliners such as the Boeing 777, each wheel is equipped with a wheel speed sensor and an anti-skid transducer, both installed on the axle. All four wheels send an electrical signal to a control unit, which detects when a wheel is rotating slower than the others. The control unit can then reduce braking power to ensure that all wheels are moving at the same speed. Although the wheel speed sensor may not be a commonly known part, it has an important role to play in the operation of an aircraft.

At Aerospace Simplified, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you source all types of wheel sensor parts and deliver them with some of the industry’s best lead times. Parts such as wheel axle lift assembly and cable tachometer are in stock and ready to ship. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780. Our team of dedicated account managers is standing by and will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less.


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