How do Magneto Ignition Systems Work in Aircraft?

For smaller aircraft, a magneto ignition system can prove to be an extremely self-reliant and compact method of fuel ignition without the use of a battery. Magneto ignitions are also used for tools and equipment that use gas such as lawn mowers, chain saws, trimmers, and more. In this blog, we will discuss how magneto ignition systems create ignition for smaller aircraft.

Magneto ignition systems are generators that utilize a magnet that rotates within a coil. Housed within the system is a primary coil which generates voltage utilizing the rotating magnetic field, as well as a secondary coil which helps to amplify the voltage. When the primary coil reaches its maximum amount of voltage, a switch is used to break the circuit which in turn causes the magnetic field to collapse. A small cam controls the timing of the collapse and when the peak is reached, a contact breaker is opened which causes the circuit interruption.

When the magnetic field collapses in the primary coil, the voltage is spiked. The secondary coil rotates many more times than the primary coil and works to amplify the voltage before it is conducted to the spark plugs. At this point, the voltage can often reach upwards of 20,000 volts. The conducted voltage is delivered to the spark plugs through metallic spark plug wires, and then is brought into the cylinders for ignition. Each cylinder houses two spark plugs and ignition circuits in order to ensure safety and ignition. Two spark plugs also help to create greater engine performance utilizing enhanced combustion. The engine also contains an impulse coupling which is used to ensure that the ignition timing is when the RPM is high enough so that there is no kickback that may damage the starter.

With a magneto ignition system, aircraft have self-reliant fuel ignition system that does not require any battery or any other electrical source. They have remained popular for aviation utilization since the early 20th century and many aircraft house a dual-plug system to ensure reliability and safety.

At Fulfillment By ASAP, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find magneto ignition system components you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we're always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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