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Thread: Adding an electrical system to an airpalane certified without electrical system

  1. #1

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    Adding an electrical system to an airpalane certified without electrical system

    From a regulatory standpoint, what is the process for adding an electrical system to an airplane certified (standard certificate, NOT experimental) with an electrical system? Is it through an STC or there are other ways?

    Thanks

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    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John676 View Post
    From a regulatory standpoint, what is the process for adding an electrical system to an airplane certified (standard certificate, NOT experimental) with an electrical system? Is it through an STC or there are other ways?
    To what extent are you looking at? Just putting in a battery to run a radio? Or adding a generator/alternator?


    Ron Wanttaja

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    To what extent are you looking at? Just putting in a battery to run a radio? Or adding a generator/alternator?


    Ron Wanttaja
    Battery and alternator to run starter, radio, transponder

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    I assume you understand that once added, can't go back so there is no way to avoid ADSB or Mode C requirements.

    My experience with the plane I built(O-200 powered LSA operating from a class D in a mode C veil) has been good using an Earth-X battery for the starter, handheld radio and tablet charging, and intercom. I have done up to twenty starts and 15 hours of flying without having to recharge(I.E. no engine driven charging system so no ADSB/Mode C restrictions).
    Last edited by btaz; 06-30-2020 at 05:00 PM. Reason: clarity

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by John676 View Post
    From a regulatory standpoint, what is the process for adding an electrical system to an airplane certified (standard certificate, NOT experimental) with an electrical system? Is it through an STC or there are other ways?

    Thanks
    Yes. An STC is the right way to go.

    IF the FAA allowed a modification like this under the experimental category, the certificate would only be good for a year at most.

    Do you think a lot of airplanes would be available for this upgrade and owners willing to purchase this modification?

    I think it's a great idea. Go for it!

    Blue on Top,
    Ron

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    What make-model airplane? Some older airplanes already have approvals for wind-driven generator based electrical systems.

    To determine whether the FAA might approve adding a full electrical system on a Field Approval or an STC take a look at FAA Order 8300.16 Major Repair or Alteration Job Aid. And maybe FAA AC_21-40A STC Application.

    To obtain an approval you will have to create some documentation including a weight and balance analysis, a description of electrical loads, a drawing showing all of the components, a parts list, and obviously a text description of modification and the steps for assembling it all.

    You will need to use FAA-PMA parts for your alteration or the process gets longer.

    It is very do-able if you have some patience and persistence but it is very definitely not instant gratification. Plan on some months to get it done. And you will need to have the cooperation of an IA with a sense of humor although you yourself can do the design and documentation. Once the FAA paperwork is approved your friendly IA gets to sign the 337 for the alteration.

    The good news is that since your labor is "free" your big expense can be for the parts. Folks who hire someone to do this sort of thing choke on the cost of paying for the labor hours that the paperwork requires.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    Last edited by WLIU; 07-03-2020 at 05:17 AM.

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    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Yes, and if the airplane had factory options for electrical, you may be able to install it without an STC as it may already be on the type certificate.

  8. #8
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John676 View Post
    Battery and alternator to run starter, radio, transponder
    Thanks. I'm guessing you've got a small Continental engine. I've written a guide for Fly Baby builders, regarding the issues with the small Continentals:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/PB100/Guide_7.pdf

    The Continental engine discussion begins on Page 18. Unless you currently have one of the *specific* Continental engines that had provisions for generators and starters (see table on page 19), you're looking at complete replacement of the engine. There's likely an STC for that (depending on your airplane).

    As you might figure, this could end up being pretty pricey. It'd be a good idea to examine the level of upgrade you *really* need.

    Most people do this kind of upgrade to add a starter to their airplane. And, after having owned a starter-equipped Fly Baby for 25 years after seven years of flying a Fly Baby WITHOUT a starter, I can relate. There are aftermarket starters (the Hamp starter) that are STC'd and can be added. But of course, they aren't cheap (though still cheaper than a replacement engine, of course).

    Beyond that, do some careful consideration as to whether you really need to install a COMPLETE electrical system, vs. a battery and a starter. Adding a generator will require that you also add a transponder and ASD-B Out to operate within a Class B "Veil" area. If you're based at an airport within Class B or C airspace, of course, you will require them in any case.

    As others have mentioned, a battery alone will provide enough power for a day's worth of starts. And if the battery IS exhausted, just go back to hand-propping.

    Ron Wanttaja

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