Turbine engine ignition systems usually operate for a brief period because the combustor only needs an initial spark. Once ignited, the ignition system is switched off and the fuel remains burning. However, there is potential for the engine to flame out— it'll stop burning. Because of this possibility, continuous ignition is used during critical periods, such as during takeoff, landing, and in emergency situations. This is different from a reciprocating engine, in which the sparks are timed to ignite during various times in the operating cycles.
Turbine engines are usually equipped with a high-energy, capacitor-type ignition system. There are two independent ignition units that operate from a common low-voltage electrical power source: the aircraft battery or the permanent magnet generator. The engine turns the generator through the accessory gearbox. The generator produces power any time the engine is turning. The system needs to be capable of creating a high heat intensity spark because these engines operate in various atmospheric conditions. High voltage is supplied to arc across a wide igniter spark gap because of this.
Ignition systems usually consist of two exciter units, two transformers, two intermediate ignition leads, and two high-tension leads— it is designed as a duel, almost redundant, system for the sake of safety. They can also be categorized into low-tension ignition systems and high-tension ignition systems. Low-tension ignition systems are often used because of the weight and size tradeoff; although high tension ignition systems often have a high service life and the igniter tips erode slower.
Turbine engines are cooled by fan airflow. The air flows through different components of the system, including the ignition system, and returns to the engine nacelle. It’s important to cool the system down, especially during continuous ignition.
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