Aircraft Engine Ignition and Electrical Systems


The ignition system for a gasoline-powered reciprocating engine must deliver a high voltage spark at each plug within each cylinder in all operating conditions. This spark must be consistently created and delivered at a specific moment during the operating cycle. To ensure reliability, 14 CFR Part 33 states that, " ... each spark ignition engine must have a dual ignition system with at least two spark plugs for each cylinder and two separate electrical circuits with separate sources of electric energy, or have an ignition system of equivalent in-flight reliability."


The primary function of a turbine engine ignition system is to ignite the fuel in the combustion chamber during an engine start. After ignition, combustion is self-sustaining and an ignition source is no longer required. Therefore, most turbine engine ignition systems are normally operated only for brief periods.

As an aviation maintenance technician, you must be familiar with aircraft electrical systems, including the ways in which electricity is generated and routed to various aircraft components. By understanding the principles of electricity and electrical system designs , you can effectively diagnose, isolate, and repair malfunctions.

However, because the expense of owning the proper tools, test equipment, and current technical publications is prohibitive for most individuals, FAA certified repair stations or the component manufacturers service many major electrical components such as generators, motors, and inverters. Although you might be required only to remove and replace these items with serviceable units, it is still your responsibility to know how these components operate to be able to troubleshoot and perform routine servicing of the electrical system.

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