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How Aircraft Engine Magnetos Work: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

How Aircraft Engine Magnetos Work: A Comprehensive Guide


An aircraft magneto is a small, generator that provides the spark needed to ignite the engine's fuel-air mixture.

What are Aircraft Engine Magnetos?

Aircraft engine magnetos are small, lightweight generators used to provide the spark needed to ignite the fuel-air mixture within the engine’s combustion chamber. The magneto is usually called the “ignition system”. The magneto is composed with a coil surrounding an iron core, which is connected to the engine’s spark plugs. The magneto uses the planet’s magnetic field to produce the spark needed to power the engine.

Airworthiness Directives (ADs) and Service Bulletins (SB).

How do Aircraft Engine Magnetos Work?

The magneto's coil is made up of a magneto-primary and a secondary coil. The coil is energized by the rotating magnet shaft. To complete the spark, the current in the spark plug wires creates a spark that passes through the spark plug gap and ignites the fuel-air mixture, producing the combustion that is necessary to power the aircraft.

The magento provide a reliable source of the spark used to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine. Another benefit of using an aircraft engine magento is that the spark produced is less likely to be affected by electrical interference from outside sources, like lightning storms or power lines. This is important for the safety of the aircraft and its occupants.

The magento’s coils must be kept clean and free of corrosion/dirt to ensure that the engine runs properly. You should periodically check the condition of the magento’s coils to make sure they are free of any contamination or damage. If the magento stops producing a spark, it can be due to a number of causes, including faulty wiring, a blocked spark plug gap, or a defective coil.

A circuit tester can help you to determine whether a faulty electrical connection is causing the magento to fail.

You should also inspect the spark plug gap to ensure it is clear and free of debris.

Q1. How often should I inspect my aircraft engine magento?

A1. You should inspect your magento at least once every six months to ensure it is free of any dirt or corrosion as well as to make sure its coils are not damaged or blocked.

Q2. Can I use my magento in any orientation?

A2. Yes, the magento is designed to produce spark regardless of the orientation of the airplane.


Aircraft engine magnetos provide the spark needed to initially power the engine’s fuel-air mixture. The reliability of the magento ensures that the engine will run consistently and is resistant to any electrical interference from outside sources. It is important to inspect the magento regularly and to make sure it is free of any dirt or corrosion, as well as checking the spark plug gap is clear and free of debris.


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