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AOPA 172 Sweepstakes: More bang for the buckAOPA 172 Sweepstakes: More bang for the buck

Electronic ignition updates the magnetos

We’ve smartened up the panel of our Sweepstakes 172—but what about under the cowl? What innovations can we introduce to an airplane that was manufactured during the Carter administration?
Photography of restoration of the 2017 AOPA Sweepstake Cessna Ascend 172 by Yingling.Yingling Aviation (ICT)Wichita, KS USA

Electroair’s electronic ignition (EI) system brings our 172’s magnetos into the twenty-first century. The EIS-41000 replaces one magneto on the 172’s four-cylinder Lycoming engine. This leaves one as a backup to the EI, which is powered by the electrical system. (Experimental aircraft can utilize EIs that replace both magnetos, but on a certified airplane the FAA would require an additional alternator for a dual system.)

The EI system is a higher energy output system—it provides a higher voltage to the spark plug, which in turn does a better job of igniting the fuel/air mixture. The EI can vary ignition timing so that it takes into account variations in altitude detected by a sensor. The engine can operate more efficiently and burn a little less fuel—about a 10 percent to 15 percent fuel reduction, and usually more at higher altitudes, the company said. That matches the fuel consumption we saw when flying the Sweepstakes 172 from Wichita to Oshkosh in July for EAA AirVenture. A second benefit is easy starts, which were noticeable during the trip from Wichita—we had no problem with hot starts after fuel stops.

Electroair’s electronic ignition (EI) system brings our 172’s magnetos into the twenty-first century.For now, the sweepstakes 172 still uses a key to crank the engine, but ElectroAir has provided an STCed push-button setup that will be installed sometime before we announce the winner of the airplane.

Checking the magnetos requires a slight adjustment during the runup. Turn off the EI and check the left magneto as usual. Return magneto setting to Both. Turn the system back on, and check the right magneto as usual. That’s it.

Electroair, based in Howell, Michigan, was established in 1992. Founder Jeff Rose developed a variety of ignition kits for Experimental aircraft flying four- and six-cylinder Lycoming, as well as TCM, Franklin, Volkswagen, and Subaru engines. Since acquiring the company in 2011, President Michael Kobylik and Vice President and Chairman Peter Burgher have pressed forward with supplemental type certificates for four-cylinder Lycoming and Continental engines, as well as six-cylinder Continentals. Electroair currently has the only STCed EI kit for certified aircraft.

While other companies pursue an STC for a dual-ignition system, Kobylik said Electroair’s engineering schedule is focused on turbocharged Lycoming engines. The company also is exploring additional aftermarket options as well as EIs for helicopters, and it is developing a kit that would replace the Bendix dual magnetos used in many Lycoming engines.


Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.

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