How to Choose Between Hose and Tube Assemblies

When procuring parts and components for an aircraft hydraulic system, it can sometimes be difficult to decide between hoses or tubes. Both component types are very common to hydraulic assemblies, and each may serve a particular section well with their properties. Nevertheless, there are some advantages and disadvantages to using each as a component for an assembly, and understanding the differences between the two can help in making a well informed decision.

While many may refer to aircraft hoses and tubing synonymously, there are some distinct differences that set them apart. One major difference between hoses and tubing is that hoses are often reinforced. Hoses also benefit dynamic applications very well due to their property of flexibility. When components have set motions that are different from each other, stress is placed on the end connection of tubing that can lead to leakage and damage. Hoses, on the other hand, are flexible enough to allow for movement with less stress. Hoses may also come in much longer continuous lengths, sometimes being produced to lengths exceeding 500’ where rigid tubing may only reach up to to 20’. Another important benefit of the hose is their ease of fabrication and installation. Hoses are fairly easy to manufacture, thus making them a widely available option for certain applications. Due to their flexibility and design, hoses may be simple to install, allowing for “snaking” through compact spaces.

Nevertheless, hoses do come with some downsides that should be considered. Hoses are often heavier than tubing, which is a major concern in aviation where weight is extremely important. Hoses may also expand or contract under pressure, as well as have a limited operating temperature range. Hoses also may require more regular replacement, possibly leading them to being a more costly investment than tubes despite their added benefits.

Aircraft tubing, also known as aircraft pipes, are light, economical, and provide a long service life for the applications that they serve. As compared to hoses, metal tubing is very beneficial for high pressure applications due to their negligible expansion. For resistances against certain stressors, chemicals, etc., tubes may be a better choice. Tubes are often more fit for abrasive environments, and stainless steel tubes may withstand sea water, moisture, UV rays, etc. When the application involves high amounts of heat, the tube is a more optimal choice over the hose due to their higher ability of heat dissipation. Aircraft tubing also has a higher temperature range for operation than hoses.

Just like aircraft hoses, tubing also comes with some disadvantages. Due to their rigidity, tubing may be more difficult to fit into certain spaces, as well as cannot be used in dynamic applications. For installation, tubing may require more specialty tools for correctly sizing tubes, bending them, and assembling. For the manufacturing of aircraft tubing, cost may end up higher than hosing when created in low quantities.


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