Components of the Aircraft Electrical System

The aircraft electrical system is a network of components that transmit, distribute, and store electrical energy. Most modern aircraft have a 28 volt direct current electrical system, which typically consists of a battery, the master switch, alternator, an ammeter and a loadmeter,. Through the electrical system, the aircraft’s taxi lights, landing lights, radio equipment, interior cabin lights and other equipment are supplied with power. For a detailed look at some of the important components and the roles they play, read below:

Aircraft Electric Alternators

The alternator’s job is to supply energy to the electrical system, while also maintaining enough charge in the battery. There is typically sufficient energy stored in the battery that will start the engine and a small amount available for use as an emergency backup in case the alternator or generator die. You can use either the alternator or generator to produce an energy supply, but some mechanics prefer the alternator because of its advantages. They generate enough of a current to operate the entire electrical system by producing alternating current  (AC) and converting it to direct current (DC). With this advantage, the aircraft alternator can generate a much more consistent electrical supply throughout different engine speeds.

Voltage Regulator

The voltage regulator is responsible for stabilizing the generator or alternator electrical output of the battery. It does this by controlling the rate of charge and making sure that voltage output is higher than the battery voltage. For instance, the difference in voltage that results from a 28 volt generator feeding a 14 volt battery would be able to keep the battery charged.


Ammeters are used to monitor the well being of the aircraft electrical system. Designed like a dial, with a zero point in the center and negative or positive to each side the ammeter shows if the alternator or generator is making enough power and can also indicate if the battery is receiving enough charge. When the indicator is leaning to the right positive side, that shows the charging rate of the battery. If it is on the left, then that means there is more energy being pulled from the battery than is being replaced. Any extreme indication on either side, means that either the alternator/generator is malfunctioning (minus deflection) or the regulator is malfunctioning (positive deflection).

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