How Are Spark Plugs Used in Airplanes?

Spark plugs are installed in vehicle engines in a way so that there is usually one spark plug per cylinder. They are small, conductive devices through which energy flows and creates a spark for ignition purposes, making them useful in airplanes, in addition to other vehicles. Typically constructed of electrically conductive materials like copper, the inner core of a spark plug allows electricity to flow through it, creating a spark on the other end as a result. In short, spark plugs deliver electric current from the ignition system to the combustion chamber of an engine, and this current is used to ignite the fuel mixture in the combustion engine to propel the plane forward.

Spark plugs on airplanes serve the same purpose as those on automobiles: they ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine’s combustion chamber to power the vehicle. They consist of metal and ceramic cylinders which screw into the engine cylinders; they also offer the heat necessary for a combustion process to take place. Spark plugs are composed of two electrodes stationed on either side of the central post, and the gap between the electrodes forms the spark that lights up the mixture of fuel and air.

Piston engines are powered by the fuel-air mixture which burns off in the combustion chamber, in turn, propelling the aircraft forward by the exhaust. Generally, spark plugs are used in these ignition systems to generate a spark which acts to light up the jet fuel and air mixture in the engine. Meanwhile, the magnetos on an aircraft supply electricity the spark plugs require to power the sparks. To do this, the magneto generates electricity that is conducted through the ignition harness and into the spark plug. Here, it is used to light the fuel in the cylinders.

Airplanes typically feature two spark plugs per cylinder in order to reduce the risk of failure. Nonetheless, spark plugs may still fail, especially as their gaps become larger over time; thus, two spark plugs per cylinder serves as a safety precaution and increases combustion capabilities. Two different versions of aircraft spark plugs exist: fine wire and massive. Massive electrode spark plugs are cheaper, but less durable than their alternative, and they dominate the market despite their short lifespan. On the other hand, fine wire spark plugs erode more slowly and work more efficiently, but are more costly than massive ones. Despite being constructed to tolerate extreme temperatures and pressures, both of these versions accumulate wear and tear with every use, as with many aircraft parts. This means that they require regular maintenance and replacement to keep the aircraft safe and airworthy for its crew and passengers.

If you are in the market for excellent spark plugs and other aircraft-specific parts, look no further than Aerospace Unlimited Services, where we offer items from only the highest quality manufacturers. We are an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited business, so you can trust the reliability of the more than 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts we have available for purchase. Many of the parts we offer are subject to rigorous quality control measures to ensure safety and reliability. Once you place an order with us, we work diligently to get your order delivered to you ASAP. Feel free to fill out an online RFQ form providing as much information as possible about your order, and one of our dedicated representatives will reach out with a quote for your comparisons within 15 minutes of submission!


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August 19, 2022

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