The Importance of Batteries in Aircraft

Batteries in an aircraft serve the same general role as those in ground vehicles, with their primary purpose being the source of the electricity needed for an engine start. However, batteries in aircraft can be far more important, even life-saving.

In the event of an engine malfunction, battery power in an aircraft will allow for the continued use of lighting, radio equipment and vital instrumentation, all of which are especially important at night or in bad weather conditions. Battery power can even be used to restart a failed engine, says StartPac. In the past, nickel cadmium or lead-acid batteries had been employed in aviation, the type used dependent largely on the size of the aircraft. However, lithium technology has more recently found a place in the industry.

Lithium batteries provide more power when starting an aircraft engine despite the fact that they are more compact. Additionally, they are not subject to the problem of corrosion and are easier on the environment than lead-acid batteries.

This new technology has also been adopted to ground power units, which are used to start aircraft engines and operate instruments or other equipment when the engines are not running. Despite being smaller and easier to use, a lithium ground power unit will actually offer twice the service life of a conventional unit.

Although aircraft may use batteries of less electrical power, 28 volt power supplies are considered more practical. The extra voltage makes it possible to use smaller wires, reducing the weight of the electrical system. In aviation, of course, there are few things more important than weight!