Constant speed drive

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Constant speed drive for Boeing 727, made by Sundstrand Corporation

A constant speed drive (CSD) is a mechanical gearbox that takes an input shaft rotating at a wide range of speeds, delivering this power to an output shaft that rotates at a constant speed, despite the varying input. They are used to drive mechanisms, typically electrical generators, that require a constant input speed. Constant speed drives are usually found as part of the accessory drives of gas turbine engines, such as aircraft jet engines. Constant-speed drives are usually found supplying accessory equipment and are rarely needed for an engine's main power output.


CSDs are mainly used on airliner and military aircraft jet engines to drive the alternating current (AC) electrical generator. In order to produce the proper voltage at a constant AC frequency, usually 3-phase 115 VAC at 400 Hz, a generator needs to spin at a constant specific RPM (typically 6,000 RPM for air-cooled generators).[1] Since the jet engine gearbox speed varies from idle to full power, this creates the need for the Constant Speed Drive (CSD). The CSD takes the variable speed output of the accessory drive gearbox and hydro-mechanically produces a constant output RPM.[2][3]

Integrated Drive Generator[edit]

On aircraft such as the Airbus A310, Airbus A330,[4] Airbus A340,[5] Boeing 747-100 and 777, an Integrated Drive Generator (IDG) is used.[6] This unit is simply a CSD and an oil cooled generator inside the same case.[7] Troubleshooting is simplified as this unit is the line-replaceable electrical generation unit on the engine.


UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Hamilton Sundstrand) is an American manufacturer of CSD and IDG units.


A variable-speed constant-frequency (VSCF) generator can be used to provide AC power using an electronic tap converter.

See also[edit]