When Aircraft Starters Overheat?


An aircraft starter is a device used to assist in the process of starting up an aircraft engine. Modern aircraft starters consist of a high torque electric motor, reduction gear, and some means of automatically engaging and disengaging from the engine. The most common type of starter, found on all types of light and medium aircraft, utilizes a wound electric motor and engagement system like a bendix drive. The reduction gear allows the start to turn much faster than the engine and create sufficient torque in order to crank the engine.

Like many aircraft parts, the aircraft starter is subject to overheating and failure. Each starter has a ‘duty cycle’ which refers to how well the starter can tolerate repeated starting attempts. Each attempt should be followed by a cooldown period to help prevent it from overheating. Unfortunately, not everyone knows this. In this blog, we will discover what happens when cooldowns are ignored and your starter overheats.

The first and most important thing to know about aircraft starters is that they are extremely powerful devices within the ignition system. In order for the small electric motors to turn fast enough to get much larger piston engines to fire, they have to be. In fact, they are so powerful that, if you were to run a starter with no connection to the engine, it would literally rip itself to pieces because it is not designed to operate without any resistance. When the starter is run on an aircraft engine for too long, it will eventually overheat and cause the armature to burn.

Starters operate by spinning 180 degree opposed brushes on a circular series of commutator bars which in turn complete a circuit and induce a magnetic field within the armature windings. The armature windings are connected to each end of the commutator bar via a soldered connector. These windings become very hot as the starter generates power. When the starter is either over-operated or not given ample time to cool, the heat from the armature is transferred through the windings into the soldered points. This causes them to melt, resulting in a short circuit and sometimes also results in the windings melting and fusing together.

If you’re having trouble getting your engine started, always be sure to wait the appropriate amount of time before trying to fire it up again. For aircraft starter parts and much more, look no further than Aerospace Simplified, a trusted supplier of parts for a wide range of industries. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we are an online distributor of aircraft parts as well as parts pertaining to the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, electronics, and IT hardware markets. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, call us at 1-509-449-7700 or email us at sales@aerospacesimplified.com.


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May 17, 2021

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