Avionics Report

January 1998 Issue

RAT Back

A clever turbine alternator delivers on its claim of 12 to 14 ram air-driven amps; itís a terrific electrical back-up

Alternator failures are an unpleasant fact of life for aircraft owners. In most instances, theyíre not a big deal. The undervolt or ALT light blinks on, you dump some electrical load and land as soon as you can.

Itís not so easy at night, in IMC and 100 miles from the nearest airport. Nightmare scenario: An alternator diode fries and you donít notice the failure until the battery voltage drops to the point where the avionics give up all at once.

Newer airplanes have a second alternator option but most older aircraft donít have a spare accessory pad to mount another alternator, even if an STC exists to add one. One solution we recently flight tested is a stowable ram air turbine alte...

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