Keyless starter in 3WF

Our Cessna now sports a keyless magneto / starter panel:

This ignition switch replaces the outdated rotary key-switch.
By making this change, a couple of things get accomplished:

  • The problem of faulty contacts inside of the key-switch which can cause a hot mag situation is eliminated
  • Operation of the magnetos is returned back to the traditional way aircraft engines are supposed to be operated – starting will be as simple as pushing a button; no more fumbling for the keys
    • Just make sure you have the keys with you in the cockpit after pre-flight so that they’re not inside any of the door locks as you taxi out for a flight.

To start the engine, instead of turning the key you

  1. Turn on both magneto switches
    Please note that the starter will actually work even if the mag switches are off, but the engine won’t fire so that’s just a waste of battery life.
  2. Push the red START button to engage the starter and hold it as long as you would hold the key in the Start position.

During runup, you simply turn off the left mag and run the engine only on the right mag for a few seconds to check on the RPM drop, turn left back on and do the same with the right mag.

When you shut down the engine, instead of turning the key to the left and removing it you need to turn off the two mag switches (don’t press the red START button).

The mag switches should never be left ON before or after flight because in that state moving the prop by hand could actually start the engine, even if the master is off. The MAGS OFF sign provided by Galvin should be displayed in the window when the aircraft is parked and the mags are indeed verified off.

An AFM supplement has been placed in the plane (see plastic box in baggage compartment) and can also be consulted online if there are any questions.

Down the road the magneto-only ignition system may be upgraded to an electronic one (EIS) with basically the same switch panel, but that’s not decided yet.