What is a Bendix Magneto?

A magneto is a self-contained electrical generator that uses permanent magnets to produce periodic, high-voltage pulses in order to ignite the aircraft piston engine spark plugs. Like most other aircraft components, magnetos are available in varying types to suit a myriad of aircraft engine models. With this in mind, this blog will provide a brief overview of Bendix magnetos, a type of magneto that is recognized for having the hottest spark of them all.

First, this section will go over how an aircraft magneto works. As the magnet spins, it generates electricity until it produces a spike of 20,000 to 30,000 volts that amplifies current to the spark plug, igniting the fuel-air mixture to fire up the pistons. Typically, within an aircraft piston engine, there are two independent ignition systems, thus there are two spark plugs per cylinder. Similarly, there are two magnetos, one on the left and one on the right. Each magneto fires one plug per cylinder, and also ensures that the ignition will keep sparking if one magneto fails.

Bendix magnetos, specifically, have a 5-year service life since the date of the original manufacturing or last overhaul, or 4 years after it has been placed in service. An overhaul consists of a 500-hour inspection and evaluation of the magneto’s various components such as the coil, bearings, capacitor, and distributor gear. This is also when the magneto is re-magnetized to ensure that it maintains a powerful spark. As such, Bendix magnetos are often bought as the overhauled kind rather than bought new, allowing for efficient, cost-effective use.

Most magneto models used to be manufactured by Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), known as Continental Aerospace Technologies today. Continental Aerospace Technologies is an aircraft engine manufacturer located in Mobile, Alabama. Other magneto manufacturers include SOCATA Aircraft and Robinson Helicopter Company. SOCATA Aircraft, known today as Daher, was an aerospace company that produced general aviation aircraft as well as aircraft structures for other manufacturers like Airbus, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, and more. Robinson Helicopter Company, on the other hand, is still in the business of manufacturing aviation aircraft.

This section will cover a few of the most common types of Bendix magnetos. The first type is the Bendix S1200. 500-hour inspections to this magneto range from $300-$400 while overhauls are $500-$600. As this magneto has many parts, few of which can be reinstalled, many components need to be replaced after disassembly. Similar to the Bendix S1200, the S-20 series has comparable inspection costs. Additionally, the S-20 series can be impulse coupled or direct drive, and they contain a feed-through capacitor that filters out radio noise produced by the Bendix magneto. A variation of the S-20 series consists of a “short cover” magneto that is differentiated by the rear contact cover, where the feed-through style condenser is installed. Lastly, the S-200 series is the last type which has an ignition vibrator paired with a retard breaker assembly to start the engine. The S-200 series can be impulsed coupled or can utilize a retard break contact assembly and has the ability to reach higher voltages, allowing for higher altitude during flight.

Selecting the right Bendix magneto for your aircraft is incredibly important as is the upkeep of these components. When maintaining your Bendix magneto, there are a few parts and tools you should keep handy in the case you need to replace, reinstall, or fix your magneto. For example, keeping a Bendix magneto kit can simplify the overhaul process by providing all the necessary replacement and repair components within one compartmentalized kit. Such components include cam screws, bearings, woodruff keys, and other various parts. Another handy item is a Bendix magneto adjustment box, or buzz box, which is a magneto timer used to ensure that the magneto is making contact. Lastly, breakers often need to be replaced, and as such, having extra Bendix magneto breakers can be useful in the case that you need to swap one out.

If you find yourself in need of breakers, bearings, fasteners, or other components to help  you repair or reinstall your Bendix magneto, choose to rely on NSN Stocks. NSN Stocks has an unparalleled inventory of aircraft parts, board-level components, and more. Utilize our optimized search engine and filters to narrow down our vast listings. When you find the part you need, fill out and submit an RFQ form to receive a quote for your comparisons in just 15 minutes or less. Thank you for choosing NSN Stocks for all your operational needs.


September 21, 2022

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