All internal combustion engines require a spark source in order to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. While many vehicles have transitioned to battery-powered coil-type ignition systems, aircraft still rely on century-old magneto technology to create the spark necessary for combustion. These small devices are considered to be one of the most reliable components featured on the aircraft, owing to their simplicity and non-dependence on other systems. Due to FAA regulations and industry standards, customers generally must choose between two magneto types: Bendix or Slick. In this blog, we will discuss some of the main differences between these devices in an attempt to help you decide which is most in line with your individual requirements.
The first metric used to compare the two leading magnetos is the RPMs at which the device is able to create a usable spark. If the magneto can create a usable spark at lower RPMs, then it is perceived to have a quicker engine start time. While these numbers have not been tested with much rigor or reproducibility, the few overhaul shops that have tested both types favor Bendix magnetos, demonstrating sparks at 30-50 RPMs lower than Slick. This difference is considered negligible in the big picture and is generally not the primary reason to choose one over the other, especially considering the fact that both models show a predictable increase in RPM needs across their operational lifespan.
When considering cost, it is essential to factor in both the initial price and the cost of maintenance over time. Across the board, the upfront cost of Slick magnetos is marginally less than Bendix, usually ranging from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. Historically, Slick magnetos were known to face problems when needing repair, leading some in the industry to refer to them as "throwaway components" when damaged. Due to better product design and overhaul facility capabilities, that stigma no longer exists, but they still remain more expensive in the context of repair. Another option for both designs is to purchase a remanufactured magneto, which is considerably cheaper and similar in reliability to brand new models.
Both magnetos types have a lifespan of around 1000 hours before needing replacement or overhaul. Bendix magnetos are designed to be readily overhaulable, with easily removable vital components and decent interchangeability. Depending on an aircraft's destination, there may not be a robust overhaul facility that could easily facilitate the rebuild of a Slick device, whereas Bendix magnetos can be essentially rebuilt with ease. In addition to the overhaul feasibility, Slick magnetos tend to require more individual components, which, when added up, is less economical than purchasing a new device outright.
Both of these magnetos are incredibly reliable and are likely to provide you with problem-free service life. What factors go into choosing one over the other is personal. Each aircraft has a variable amount of TBO hours and differing levels of accessibility to robust overhaul stations. Regardless of your decision, it is important to properly maintain the magneto and procure associated parts from a trusted source.
At Aviation Purchasing Platform, we can source all of your magneto parts needs with ease. With a robust inventory of over 2 billion ready-to-purchase items, we have immediate availability on top-requested Bendix and Slick magneto components, and we would be happy to provide you with a rapid and competitive solution in 15 minutes or less. To begin, simply fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form for any part number you are interested in. If you are facing an AOG situation and need your order in a hurry, please let our team know so that they may discuss same-day shipping options with you.
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