Ever since Andy published his diary in April 2012, we've had many questions about how the airbrake works.
Andy says in his diary "The system uses 2 separate hydraulic rams, each with its own accumulator, to reduce the chances of a failure."
Typical of the questions asked is this one ...
"Surely it would be better to have the two brake panels linked to a single ram so that their operation is always equal on each side of the vehicle? Should one side alone fail, would you not get massive instability and steering problems?"
The answer is of course we must ensure that the air brakes open equally on each side! Our original design did have one hydraulic ram, but we needed to beef it up a bit, and there was not enough space between the jet engine and the rocket engine to simply increase the diameter of the actuator.
We have therefore opted for 2 smaller rams side by side, both operating on a single slider on rails. The slider is mechanically connected to the airbrakes so that both are pushed out equally. This has the advantage of both saving the vertical space, and providing a backup should one set of hydraulics fail – one ram would be able to open the brakes sufficiently to start slowing BLOODHOUNDSSC.
Here is a brief animation of the motion which, although the quality is not that brilliant (sorry!), should give a good idea of how it works.