Onboard Electrical System (I)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Aircraft frequently have an electrical system that provides energy for their instruments and other auxiliary devices.

Not all aircraft have them for various reasons, being the most important one to save weight or the state of technology when the aircraft in question was designed: ULM aircraft and some vintage or classical models don't have native electrical systems for those reasons. WWI aircraft, for example, almost never carried a radio or telecommunications device because at the time such devices were extremely bulky and heavy.


External alternator moved by wind.
External alternator moved by wind.

However, in some cases and in more recent times, such aircraft have in fact being equipped with rudimentary electrical systems in order to provide energy for COM, NAD or ADF radios (communications, navigation or direction finding systems), and perhaps some other niceties like cabin lights. The installation of such a system, created long after the original design and construction of the aircraft in question, is no small project despite appearances; if you want to install such a system in your - say - vintage biplane, go see a technician and don't try to do it on your own.


In the case of some cropdusters a similar system is used to manage the aspersion of agrochemicals.
In the case of some cropdusters a similar system is used to manage the aspersion of agrochemicals.

Each aircraft has its own electrical system; it could easily be specific not only to that make and model, but to each specimen or serial number as well. Pilots should be well-versed with the electrical system of the aircraft that they ride on because in the even of an electrical problem or emergency they will have to understand what is going on and what they can do about it.



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