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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedElectroair: Sparking a new option in ignition systems
By Peter Lert
 
Our aircraft may be made of the latest carbon composites; their instrument panels doubtlessly boast more computation capability than the Manhattan Project.

Yet chances are, if they’re powered by piston engines, their ignition systems are based on magnetos that Henry Ford could overhaul blindfolded.

Meanwhile, the cheapest econo-box goes motoring off to the supermarket with electronically-controlled ignition that starts instantly, hot or cold, and continually adjusts its timing to reflect engine loads and conditions.

Enter, at this point, Michael Kobylik and Peter Burgher of Electroair, in Howell, Michigan. Both have EAA pedigrees: Peter is a lifetime member, while Mike first came to Oshkosh in 1974 and has hardly missed a year since, even while getting an aeronautical engineering degree from Michigan State along the way.

Together, they developed an electronic ignition system—with more than 1,000 systems installed on homebuilts using engines as diverse as Subarus, Jabirus, and VW conversions, plus Franklins and engines from the “big two.”

Now they anticipate a supplemental type certificate for use on four-cylinder Lycomings in mid-August.

Advantages of electronic ignition include a much hotter spark—actually a whole continuous “zap” lasting through a full 20 degrees of crankshaft rotation—as well as variable timing advance up to 39 degrees before top dead center based on manifold pressure. This degree of advance goes about 10 to 14 degrees farther in advance than the fixed setting of old-fashioned magnetos.

When replacing a magneto on a four-cylinder engine, the Electroair system is triggered by a “mag timing housing” installed on the original magneto drive pad. Six-cylinder installations are slated to use a trigger wheel secured behind the existing flywheel. The technology allows the system to “know” the crankshaft angle every 6 degrees of engine rotation.

A typical installation replaces a single magneto with the electronic ignition, while retaining the other original magneto as a backup in case of failure of the electronic system or the airplane electric system required to power it.

Electroair suggests that use of a single electronic ignition system will improve engine performance while saving fuel; this has apparently been borne out by the results obtained by racers using both Electroair and other electronic ignition systems.

Pricing runs $3,400 to $3,500; the “show special” drops it to $2,895.

After they earn approval for the installation on four-cylinder Lycomings, the pair plans to next tackle four-cylinder Continentals—such as the O-200—followed by six-cylinder mills from both Continental and Lycoming.

For more information, drop by Booth 3175 in Exhibit Hangar C, or contact sales@electroair.net.

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