The Basics of Aircraft Magnetism
A vast majority of aircraft necessitate electrical power to perform standard flight procedures such as taxiing, landing, and operating navigation equipment within the cockpit. The typical electrical systems within aircraft consist of a battery and an alternator or generator, all of which are connected via several meters of wire.
To understand how aircraft function, one must understand a few basics about magnetism. All matter on Earth is composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons, and the relationship among these items can create a flow of electricity. Magnetism is essentially used to generate the electricity needed to operate electronic systems, aircraft lights, radios, and more.
The concept of magnetism was first described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle and Indian surgeon Sushruta Shamita in 600 BC. In 1819, Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted described the relationship between electricity and magnetism as being centered around the influence an electrical current could have on a compass by running a current through a wire.
Magnetism allows certain materials like iron and copper to attract or repel other materials. In aircraft, magnetism is used in compasses, alternators/generators, starter motors, relays, navigation systems, and an array of other aircraft instruments. Magnetic materials are composed of microscale particles which have a north and south pole that is aligned in one direction. While some materials can be magnetized easily, many can lose this property without much effort. Soft iron is one such material that is recognized for this ability, making it suitable for electromagnetic relays, solenoid switches, and other various electromagnets.
An electromagnet is an insulated wire that is wound several times around a core with high permeability. When a current flows through the wire, a magnetic field is generated that is proportional to the number of turns in the winding. As the current in the electromagnet is turned off, a large reversed inductive voltage spike is produced, making the magnetic field collapse. This is due to the coiled inductor resisting changes in current flowing through the windings. If the voltage spike is too high, this can produce damaging effects on sensitive avionics.
With this in mind, a capacitor can be utilized to dampen the spike. After such an occurrence, one must verify that everything is working optimally. In the case that components or hardware is damaged, one must find a reputable distributor of high quality replacement parts. If you find yourself in need of capacitors, transponders, transformers, starter motors, electrical circuits, or any other related components, rely on ASAP AM Spares.
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