Different Types of Pressure Sensors and Their Uses

Since Orville and Wilbur Wright first demonstrated the viability of flight in 1903, flying vehicles have come a long way. While a marvel of its time, the Wright Flyer lacked any electronics. Presently, aerospace vehicles consist of thousands of PCBAs and electronic devices, many of which are sensors.

Today, sensors are a critical part of the majority of advanced aircraft. For instance, the Air Force’s F-35 jet relies on sensors for monitoring system parameters, such as fuel, air temperature, oxygen, oil, positioning, and pressure. All of these variables are important, and optimizing the pressure sensors utilized for such uses are paramount for mission success.

Pressure sensors are devices used to measure the pressure of gasses or liquids. More specifically, pressure serves as an expression of the force required to stop a fluid from expanding and is typically written in terms of force per unit area. In general, a pressure sensor acts as a transducer by generating a signal as a function of the pressure imposed.

Types of Pressure Sensors and Their Applications

Whether for commercial airliners, defense aircraft, or spacecraft, pressure sensors are used in nearly all applications, both internal and external. To better understand their usage for commercial, defense, and space applications, we will outline some of the most common uses below.

Commercial Uses:

  • Total air pressure
  • Cabin air pressure
  • Hydraulics pump pressure
  • Hydraulics differential pressure
  • Engine differential pressure
  • Engine bleed pressure
  • Landing gear pressure
  • Pressure switches

Defense Uses:

  • Air pressure
  • Fuel pressure
  • Hydraulics differential pressure
  • Engine differential pressure
  • Engine bleed pressure
  • Landing gear pressure
  • Pressure switches
  • Weapons pressure

Space Uses:

  • Oxidizer pressure
  • Fuel tank pressure
  • Pump inlet pressure
  • Pump outlet pressure
  • Gearbox oil pressure
  • Helium tank pressure
  • Thrust chamber pressure
  • Hydraulic accumulator pressure

Choosing a Pressure Sensor for Aerospace Design

When selecting a pressure sensor for your aerospace application, it is important to keep a few factors in mind. These key factors include:

  • Knowing the environmental challenges for sensor deployment, as this can affect the pressure exerted on the aerospace vehicle’s exterior or interior.
  • Knowing or determining a reference pressure of your applications. Usually, the reference pressure falls within the range of membrane deformation for the sensor type and material.
  • Determining which type of pressure you need to measure.
    • For differential pressure sensors, the difference between the deformation from two inputs is measured and utilized to determine the pressure.
    • For absolute pressure sensors, the input is combined with a vacuum, and its deformation represents the actual pressure value.
    • For relative pressure sensors, the ambient or environment pressure is the reference, and the deformation determines the relative change in pressure.
  • Employing good practices for pressure-tolerant electronics.


Expedited Quoting is a leading distributor of pressure sensors for a wide range of applications outside of the aerospace realm. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items on our database, customers can easily meet rigid time constraints and inflexible budget parameters. For more information on any featured product, we invite you to fill out and submit a Request for Quote (RFQ) form through our Instant RFQ service. We only ask that you complete any of the empty fields with asterisks (*) next to them, as these are required pieces of information that better ensure we can tailor a solution that keeps your requirements in mind.

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