Electroair was started in 1992 by Jeff Rose in Chattanooga, TN. Jeff became interested in electronic ignition systems and their application on experimental aircraft. Jeff has built several experimental aircraft including two Vari-Ezes, a Long-Ez, an Avid Flyer and a Kitfox.
Jeff selected an Electromotive high performance ignition system as the basis of his original investigation and began developing methods for coupling that ignition system to typical aircraft engines. The Electromotive system is dependent on a 60 minus 2 tooth trigger wheel that rotates at the same speed as the crankshaft RPM to deliver both engine speed and engine position information. With that information, the ignition system can deliver spark energy at the appropriate time needed for each cylinder. Jeff’s original systems attached this trigger wheel directly to the crankshaft, and using a magnetic sensor, delivered the engine information from that point. Later iterations included the development of the Mag Timing Housing (MTH), which utilized a magneto position for coupling the ignition to the engine. Jeff’s MTH design served as the basis for the current MTH used in Electroair’s present day system.
As the technical challenges of coupling the ignition system to an aircraft engine were overcome, Jeff turned his attention to developing an appropriate timing curve which would take advantage of an important feature available with modern, electronic ignitions: variable timing. In aircraft applications, efficiencies in both power and fuel consumption can be realized if ignition timing is varied based on altitude changes. Magnetos have fixed timing, which was based essentially on highest load conditions for an engine. Those conditions would exist at full-power, sea level operations. Jeff developed a Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor that would detect changes in MAP (varies based on altitude) and supply a signal (voltage in this case) to the ignition system. A power increase from the engine can be achieved by adjusting ignition timing as MAP changes. Jeff’s research showed that ignition timing curve to be a linear, fixed curve and is incorporated into the analog circuitry of the Electroair MAP Sensor.
As time moved forward, Jeff continued to focus the efforts of Electroair in the experimental world. Jeff developed systems not only for the 4cyl Lycoming engines, but for 6cyl Lycoming, TCM engines, Franklin engines, Volkswagen engines (& their variants e.g. Rotorway, Hirth, etc.), Corvair conversions, and Subaru engines. (After Jeff sold the business, Electroair continued to develop systems for large Continentals, Lycoming 720s, and Jabiru engines). Because of Jeff’s efforts and the continuation of those efforts under the new leadership at Electroair, we can safely say that amongst our competitors, we can offer ignition systems for the widest range of aircraft engine applications.
Some Interesting Applications & Customers:
Since 1992 and with some 2,500 systems sold, there have been many interesting and noteworthy aircraft and customers that Electroair has had the privilege of working with. Some are listed below:
Jim Price, Rutan Long-EZ with Lycoming O-320, 160HP engine:
Jim with this airplane in the noted configuration used two Electroair ignition systems. With this modification and others, Jim was able to set two high altitude records in May of 1996.The records included a climb to a peak altitude of 10,676m and climb and hold of 10,645m (35,026ft & 34,925ft respectively).These records can be found at the Federation Aeronautique Internationale website:records.fai.org/general_aviation/.Electroair is very proud to have participated in this endeavour.
Jason Newberg, Pitts S-1 with Lycoming IO-360 with 11:1 compression cylinders:
Jason completed building this aircraft in 2006.He flew it 2800 miles from his home in Florida to Reno, NV to compete in the 2006 Reno Air Races. At the Reno Air Races, Jason competed in the Bi-Plane, Silver Class and after qualifying in fifth place, worked his way up to first place and won the division with a speed of 189.657mph. The only modifications to his aircraft were the high compression cylinders and a stock Electroair ignition system. This was Jason’s first competition at Reno.
John, Rutan Long-EZ with Lycoming O-320:
John has been flying his completed aircraft since 1996. John reported in March of 2007 that he had over 2,600 hours on the system, has overhauled three Bendix magnetos in that time, and that he regularly takes his aircraft to 25,000ft. John’s website can be found at:www.iflyez.com.
Richard Brumm, Island Aircraft – services Republic Seabees:
About three years ago, Richard had contacted us to discuss the possibility of replacing an automotive type distributor found on the Franklin engine common to the Republic Seabee. After working through the challenges of coupling the ignition system to the Franklin engine, we were able to develop a kit that could be used by his customers to replace the aging distributor system. Jim Poole of Florida was the first to receive this system and an FAA Field Approval for the use of this system. Data of the field approval can be made available upon request.
Ron, Harmon Rocket with Lycoming IO-720:
Ron completed his aircraft in 2009 and uses dual Electroair electronic ignition systems on his Lycoming IO-720, eight cylinder engine. As of April 2010 (Sun N Fun Fly-in) he had nearly 70 hours on the ignition systems.
Bob, RV-6 with Lycoming IO-540, 322hp:
Bob converted his ignition system to an Electroair system last year (2009) after several discussions regarding support and quality issues surrounding his previous system. Bob recently posted on the Van’s Air Force website electronic ignition forum (www.vansairforce.net) regarding his decision making process for using the Electroair system.
There are many more customers and applications that can be shared and, if necessary, Electroair will be happy to elaborate on more of them.
Electroair received its first STC for an electronic ignition system in July 2011. The certification of the Electroair electronic ignition solidifies Electroair as the leader in general aviation ignition system design. Since the FAA issued the STC, Electroair has expanded its operation, staff, and distribution network.
During 2012, Electroair completed a major expansion of the Approved Model List (AML) by adding several aircraft models that use 4cyl Lycoming engines. Also, in 2012, Electroair completed the requirements for adding 4cyl Continental engines, including the O-200, IO-240, C-85, C-90 and more. The Electroair STC will encompass not 4cyl Lycoming engines, but 4cyl Continentals as well. By the end of 2012, Electroair will also have completed the necessary steps to add Piper light twins to the AML, including the Seminole, Twin Comanche, and Apache.
Electroair continues to work with flight schools and fleet operators to assist in fleet-wide implementation of electronic ignition systems (some flight schools have reported consistent fuel savings of 10-16%). Electroair is also working with OEMs in an effort to expand the Approved Model List (AML). By 2013, Electroair hopes to have upwards of 90% of the aircraft models that use 4cyl engines listed on the AML and eligible for using the Electroair electronic ignition system.
Late in 2012, Electroair will shift its focus to 6cyl electronic ignition systems for certified aircraft. The certification plan is in place, the test aircraft have been lined up, prototype parts designed and in place; all that’s left is to complete the steps. Electroair has also begun working on a solution for replacing the infamous Bendix Dual Magneto. Electroair expects to begin receiving approvals by early 2013.
With many milestones met, including moving from a company entirely dedicated to the experimental aircraft owners and continual improvement of electronic ignition systems, to a company that has successfully moved new technology into the Certified General Aviation fleet, Electroair does not foresee any technical or systematic hurdles that cannot be overcome while earning additional approvals. Electroair’s history will continue to grow as it expands, offering a much larger pool of aviators worldwide the opportunity to gain much more from their aircraft.