Aircraft Electrical System Components

As technology and aircraft continue to advance, analog modems and mechanical components are rapidly being replaced with state of the art electronic hardware. As an increasing number of aircraft parts now rely on electricity, having an efficient and operational electric powering system is a critical need. While these systems can be fairly complex, being aware of some of the basic components can go a long way in understanding the functionality and operations of various systems. In this blog, we will discuss some of the base electrical system components within an aircraft, including switches, solenoids, relays, fuses, and circuit breakers.

At their most basic, switches are electrical components that open and close circuits to control a current. For their operation, switches contain pairs of contacts that allow for a current to flow when they are closed. To separate contacts, a physical object such as a wedge or spring may separate them, or other methods such as air pressure may be used. Switches can be controlled manually or automatically, such as switch toggles, operating handles, rotors, etc. Within an aircraft, switches may be used to control flaps, landing gear, motors, lamps, and other electronics used by either passengers or crew members.

Solenoids are electrical system components that are a type of electromagnet. Solenoids create magnetic fields as a current is passed through them, and they may be used to transform energy into a linear motion. In regards to aviation, solenoids are useful for the actuation of pneumatic and hydraulic valves or as a switch for a starter. Solenoids are very beneficial for aircraft to simplify electrical systems, reducing the amount of weight needed for an operation. Solenoids are composed of an iron or steel armature that is wrapped in a coil.

Relays are a type of electrical switch that contain input and contact terminals. Relays may be used to govern a circuit with an independent low-power signal or use one signal to control multiple circuits. Relays rely on electromagnets for operating contacts, though they may also use semiconductors when the relay is solid-state. Relays may be used within motors, circuit breakers, telecommunication, and more.

Fuses and circuit breakers are electrical devices that protect circuits and connected equipment. A fuse is a type of sacrificial device, consisting of a wire or strip that melts during a current overload. When the wire or stip melts, the current is impeded and cannot continue through the circuit and damage equipment. As they melt during overloads, fuses may only be used once and need to be replaced after operation. Circuit breakers are similar to fuses, though they may be used multiple times. Circuit breakers are switches that protect circuits from short circuits and overloads. When a fault is detected, the circuit interrupts the current to protect equipment and may be reset after use to continue operation. Within aircraft that contain many flight pertinent electronics, fuses and circuits are important for safety and protection of components.

When it comes time to begin sourcing the electrical system components and parts that you need for your next project or operation, Cogent Sourcing has you covered with everything you are searching for. Cogent Sourcing is owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, and we can help you find the electronic components and aviation parts that you are searching for, 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. ASAP Semiconductor is an FAA AC 00-56B accredited and ISO 9001:2015 certified enterprise. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


July 15, 2022

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