An aircraft alternator is a piece of electrical equipment that supplies the aircraft with the necessary power to operate optimally. A malfunctioning alternator prevents an aircraft battery from charging properly, which can leave a pilot grounded until the issue is resolved. Such situations are less than ideal for passengers and aircrew that cannot afford delays or setbacks.
While the solution is to simply switch out your alternator, you must be familiar with the signs of alternator failure and how to locate the source of the problem first. For example, if your aircraft experiences low or no output, a stalling engine, a discharge indication on an ammeter, a declining load meter, or low-bus-voltage/alternator-out annunciators, your alternator may be on the verge of failure.
When the alternator warning light appears on the aircraft dashboard, it is critical for owners and technicians to remember that this may not always indicate that the alternator is the problem. To avoid replacing the alternator when not necessary, we will outline some of the ways in which you can determine if the alternator is truly the issue.
To perform most troubleshooting techniques, one must invest in a calibrated Volt-Ohm Meter (VOM). Keep in mind that VOMs made with stainless steel do not provide enough magnetism that some troubleshooting tests require. Once you have acquired the proper tools, you can begin assessing your alternator, or else you can also read how does aircraft alternator work.
To begin, recycle your alternator switch to determine if low or no output to your battery is due to the stator alternator aircraft engines. After you have switched on your master and alternator switches, utilize the VOM to measure the output. Depending on the system at hand, the following measurements mean that an alternator is having trouble. Issues with your alternator will either produce less than 13.5 volts for a 12V or less than 25.5 volts for a 24V.
After the master and alternator switches are on, the metal scale can be placed on the alternator chassis. A magnetic pull without alternator output showing on the VOM indicates that there is a problem with the alternator itself. Your field voltage can also be measured with the VOM, and it should read 75% bus. If it is lower than 75% or displaying zeroes, it is time to get a new alternator or bring it to a technician for repair.
To test field resistance, place the VOM against your alternator’s field wire. An aircraft’s 24-volt alternator should present a reading between 8-12 Ohms. Anything higher or lower will indicate that there are issues with the alternator’s brushes or brush assembly. Lastly, you can check the grounds between the alternator and the airframe. If the reading is less than 0.2 Ohms, the aircraft should be inspected.
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